FIA post-race press conference 15 Jun 2003
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - JUNE 15, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m13.591s
2. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1h31m14.375s (+ 0.784s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h31m14.946s (+ 1.355s)
Q: Michael, 4.4 seconds covered the first four as they crossed the line, pressure all the way, two great pit stops. Does it get much better than that?
Michael SCHUMACHER: No. That's the ideal result, obviously. It was a tight race, a tough race. We had to be very careful on our brake side so I wasn't able to push all the way through and just drove the pace I needed to and during the pit stop area, that's the area I started to sort of open the gap a little bit. Basically, it was a very tricky and tight race as you said, with the first four cars so close together.
Q: I know you're not into stats, but you've just taken your score of world championship points to 999 now and, of course, you've taken the lead in the world championship.
MS: Well, that's a good number. In Germany that means if you achieve a number like that, you have to give a drink free to everyone, so let's see what we're going to do tonight.
Q: Ralf, you had a great race there with your brother in the early stages. Did the pit stops decide it for you?
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Yeah, strategy-wise we were a lap down on them. Obviously, it was a bit disappointing because we had a better race pace. I can't see where he took the gap but anyway, I know he was in a different race but I was always able to follow him and with a clear road, I could have gone quicker, as cars behind us showed on Michelin tyres. I think we had a better tyre today as we had last year. But in 2001, I won it like this. Now it's his turn so, why not?
Q: In the amazing mirror-less Williams too, and it was an interesting tyre choice in the second pit stop...
RS: Um, yeah. I had my reason for it, because we had a bit of graining and I just didn't want to go through that period again. It made my race a bit difficult at the beginning. The mirror was kind of tricky, but it was on this camera and it was hitting my head braking into turn one sometimes, so it was a bit scary.
Q: Juan Pablo, you were looking very good but then you had that early race spin in front of Michael...
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah. I was too close to Ralf, then I braked and then you get very little downforce here and I just braked too late and got it sideways and quite a few times I missed the chicane during the race. I couldn't brake where I wanted to brake and every time I braked where I was I was hardly making the chicane. I just went in sideways and just lost it. My fault completely, but I think it's great that everybody at BMW and Williams did a fantastic job for me. They gave me a good car and I managed to come back. I dropped to about sixth and came back to third, which is pretty good.
Q: It looked as if that problem that you also had with the mirror didn't slow you at all...
JPM: No, it was bothering me quite a bit, especially when it was getting inside the cockpit. It was on my hand and it was like what's this and sometimes it would be flopping in front of my face but pretty interesting.
Q: At least you didn't have to look at Fernando Alonso behind you in those closing laps.
JPM: Yeah, somebody told me that Fernando was within two seconds and I said oh, and I saw. But I knew when I passed him that they had way too much downforce and there was no chance he was going to pass us on the straight.
Q: Michael, you said yesterday wait and see what happens on Sunday. It is interesting, in fact, that you had virtually the same fuel load as the Williams drivers.
MS: Yeah, virtually, but just a little bit more which gave us the race, which meant that we won and that's what it takes in the end. It doesn't matter but in the end we were good enough and we were very good on the start, as well. I was a bit worried for the start after what I saw in Monaco. The start went very well and I was just able to stay close and do the right speed at the right moment to give us the lead. The crew, the mechanics, did a great job at the pit stop to get me out in front.
(Ralf attempts to sit in the middle! Laughter)
Q: Michael, well done. You were the challenger during the first stint, but then you had Ralf on your tail for the rest of the race. How tough was it out there?
MS: Basically, I was pushing Ralf in the first stint when he went through a graining phase. It got so close that I started to prepare to overtake. There were one or two laps when he struggled badly with his tyres but it was only basically one lap, and I thought okay, next lap I'm going to get him, but then his tyres were a little bit better and his exit out of turn ten was good enough to just keep me behind. But then we got a little bit into trouble with brakes and I had to preserve them and wasn't able to push and probably their performance picked up throughout the race for whatever reason, so it got very tight. It's difficult to say how much quicker they could have gone or we could have gone if we had the ability to push with our brakes all the way through. At the end of the day, what counts is how it finished and that's obviously to our end and we're obviously very happy.
Q: Leading the World Championship now is obviously important as we go into the second half of the season.
MS: Yeah, it's always important to go into the lead and try to get as many points as you can. The season is going to be a long one and we knew that from the beginning and we've sort of had confirmation by now and it will be a tough fight to the end.
Q: After qualifying yesterday, you didn't really give the message that you could perhaps win this race today.
MS: Well, because I think it was very unclear what is the direction it's going to go, because if you see, for example, in Monte Carlo on the Thursday practice, we were miles ahead, on the Saturday, it was completely the reverse. Yesterday, here, with the green track, it was the complete opposite so I was hoping that maybe in the race it worked in our favour and it did look like it in the first stint so at this stage yesterday, obviously, I wasn't sure of the situation - and I was a little bit pessimistic still with an open mind, obviously.
Q: Ralf, you really did get very close to Michael on occasions, a couple of tenths apart. How close did it feel you were to overtaking?
RS: Well, I was never close to even try, that's why I didn't. Maybe some might think again that I took it too easy but if there is no possibility I won't try it. There's eight points for the team and for me and for Juan as well so it was important for us to score points at the same time. As Michael said at the beginning, I went through a bit of a difficult period with my tyres but after that, already towards the end of the first stint and in the second and third, I could have been far stronger and showed our basic potential. But it's not enough to get by. I had good straight-line speed. We have to go back to the factory and find a few more horse powers to change that again.
Q: What was the strategy to keeping your two front tyres on at the first pit stop?
RS: I fell in love with them. That's why. No, I went through a graining period. The front tyres worked well so I didn't want to change anything.
Q: Did you know that there had been a couple of tyre delaminations for other people?
RS: I saw it on the telly and the team told me but we didn't have any sign so that's why we didn't worry too much.
Q: So what can you change next time to win?
RS: At least the two of us were on the podium, which is great for the team, but Monaco and Montreal seem to work massively into our favour. The next one is Nurburgring, a totally different circuit. Just let's wait and see how we perform there before we think about pole positions and winning races again. But one thing is sure; the team has developed the car massively in the right direction. It's starting to pay off but we're still a long way away from where we really want to be and there is a lot to come.
Q: Juan Pablo. You overtook Alonso early on. How easy was that, how important was it?
JPM: Well, I lost it into the chicane and I think Alonso and another car passed me, I think it was Webber. I went past them pretty easy to be honest. Alonso had very good traction because I think there was quite a lot of downforce in the car but for some reason he was braking really early into the hairpin and I knew he was expecting me to try to overtake him on the straight so I just went in under braking and he just braked way too early and that was it.
Q: Did you have any problems later in the race?
JPM: I was struggling a little bit under braking and instability with the car right into the corners, especially into the chicane - I missed the chicane two times and when they told me you can't miss it any more I had to brake. I could brake like, under 100, and no problem make the chicane. Sometimes I was having problems with the downshift. Something it wouldn't downshift and I couldn't slow the car down quick enough, sometimes it would downshift...it was a bit of a nightmare.
Q: How long were you coping with that for?
JPM: Um, 70 laps! (laughter)
Q: Did that have anything to do with the spin?
JPM: No, it was before the spin. I had it from lap one.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Michael, you said earlier this week that this is not a track to your liking yet this is the sixth time you have won here. What is it about the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that you don't like but you keep on winning?
MS: First of all I am surprised you say I don't like this circuit. I haven't said that, honestly, and actually, for overtaking it is a good circuit this one, so I don't know where you got your statements. But the fact is that I have circuits that I feel are a higher challenge, as in Suzuka and Spa. What is the reason why I am doing well here compared to other circuits? I have no idea. I don't know. To my nature, it is actually not the right circuit because I feel I have usually I show up in high-speed corners and other kind of circuits, as Suzuka combinations rather than stop-and-go circuits. So, I have no reason. I guess I just have a good car.
Q: Ralf, you and your team have worked very hard on the development of your car and you have paid tribute to the team. Today was your best opportunity to compare the performance of your car with Michael's. Can you tell us the areas where you think you are good and where you are weak and perhaps Michael can tell us what he thinks about the performance of the Williams.
RS: Well, simply feeling my car and looking at his I think we did a better job on the set-up side. My car looked a lot easier to drive today, but that could have been about tyres - Juan seemed to have some traction problems from looking behind. But here it is fair to say we would have been better but then, you know, it could change from circuit to circuit. Michael, at this circuit, fits very well, but as I said before the car is really getting there.
MS: Not much to say, honestly. I don't know whether it is the car is it? He went particularly well through the last chicane I thought. That is the only thing I can say.
Q: First question, Michael, is that we know it is a custom in your country to buy everyone a round of drinks. I just wanted to let you know that a bunch of my colleagues are going out after and I was just wondering if you would...
MS: You look like you drink a lot.
MS: It is going to be expensive for me. Too much beer.
You're right on that point!
Q: Second question, to all three of you. A lot of has been made about the lack of competitiveness in Formula One but today's race showed that is not the case. Can you comment on that?
MS: The nature of sport is that it is unpredictable and that is what we have seen in all the years of many, many sports and that is the way with Formula One. Sometimes there are straight-forward races and sometimes they are very tight races and they come every so often in whatever order, but as I say that's sport.
RS: After last year, certainly I have to say that no-one expected it to change that quickly, but it is great for us, great for the sport. Obviously Michael doesn't like it but it is great to see different cars winning this year.
JPM: I have nothing to add.
Q: Ralf, was the mirror hitting your bodywork at all?
RS: Well, it was hitting me, the bodywork. It was just alternating. Bits lying around in my monocoque so I had to throw it out again but it was funny. Something else to do!
Q: How do you comment about this disaster for McLaren this weekend.
MS: I think actually to see Kimi going from the pitlane, I think he had a problem with the tyre and then still finished sixth, that's not too bad, honestly. After I heard he had this problem with the tyre I wouldn't have expected him to be in the points.
Q: Juan, after your spin did that cause you to change your race strategy?
JPM: No, I think the race strategy was pretty set already before the start of the race and I just went out and I pushed really hard all day and I came from what, 15 or 18 seconds behind them to catch them. So I think I did pretty good from that perspective but I think it is a shame - I had the potential to win the race again and I kind of threw it away.
Q: Michael, after the results of the last two weeks and now you are in front in the drivers' championship, do you see Williams as the biggest threat to you or is it still McLaren or is it both?
MS: If you analyse this season you have clearly to say that there is some character of circuit which seems to suit one and other characters the other team so you simply have to count them both, in terms of championship points, but obviously it is more tight with Kimi and McLaren.
Q: A great race guys. Exciting, tense, close, but the bottom line is at the end, you have four cars and no-one could overtake. Is that a state of this particular race or is it the cars in Formula One in general, or what is the deal?
MS: The deal is that those cars are so competitive and so close together that it is simply too close competition to get the chance of overtaking.