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FIA Saturday press conference 28 Jun 2003

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, 28 June 2003

POST QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - JUNE 28, 2003
1. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1m31.523s
2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m31.555s (+ 0.032s)
3. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m31.619s (+ 0.096s)


Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.


TV UNILATERALS
(Raikkonen is not audible due to technical problems)

Q: Michael, it's very close isn't it?
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Yup. Between three of us actually, not just between Kimi and myself so it's going to be interesting tomorrow.

Q: Interesting from a tyre point of view too.
MS:
Could be.

Q: There are three different manufacturers here too - tell us where you're looking at from Ferrari's point of view now?
MS:
I hope that in terms of strategy we made the right decision and we can use that to our advantage. We will find out tomorrow. I'm not sure if I should happy about second position and not prefer third position because usually it's a little bit more dusty on the inside of the circuit, but we will find out tomorrow.

Q: Ralf, it looked like a good clean lap from you too.
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
The first and second sectors were alright. The last half of the chicane and through the last turn I missed a bit but that's always... if you asked the three of us, all of us will complain about one or two corners, which is the same. After yesterday, being so close to McLaren today and just missing the pole by a bit, I think we can be fairly happy about that.

Q: Kimi, I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but this is where your compatriot Mika Hakkinen scored his first pole in 1997. Can you just describe your emotions at taking the pole today?
Kimi RAIKKONEN:
For sure it's a nice feeling and it's nice to hear that some other Finnish bloke has also got the first time here, but it's a big thanks to the team and the Mercedes people who are pushing really hard. It's one of the home races for the team and, of course, it's nice to get my first pole because one of these two guys is always taking it by a little margin and when you get it it's better than nothing.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, well done. What do you think about pole then?
KR:
Well, it's better to start from pole that second or third place but especially after the last race. It's a slightly better result!

Q: Did you feel a lot of pressure going last?
KR:
Actually I didn't look at the screen at all. I didn't have any idea what the other guys did. I just went out and tried to do my best. We improved the car a lot from the morning and it was pretty much perfect.

Q: Were you a bit surprised to be on pole?
KR:
I think so. I knew that if we could get everything completely right we could be on the top and it was close but it's good to happen.

Q: And the lap was pretty good?
KR:
Yeah. I wouldn't change much. Of course, you can always maybe get a little bit better but you only have one time to try it and I think it's good enough to be on the pole.

Q: Michael, you seemed to pick up time during the lap - you were slower than Rubens at the first intermediate point...
MS:
About three thousandths...

Q: Very little, I agree, but did it seem to you that the grip was improving throughout the lap?
MS:
No, I wouldn't say so. I mean, all weekend basically, the first and last sector we have been very close and the mid sector has been sort of my sector and that was the same again now.

Q: So generally speaking were you happy with the lap?
MS:
Yep.

Q: How much are you worried about Bridgestone's performance here because they seem to have been a little bit out-classed by Michelin?
MS:
Well, we are second so we are very close to the guys and I think our tyre will be quite good tomorrow.

Q: And have you been surprised how competitive you have been? It has obviously been good.
MS:
No, I have not been surprised. To my knowledge the Michelin guys yesterday used the soft tyres but they are not on the soft ones anymore and that paid out a lot for qualifying yesterday and still we were in a reasonable position. Where we are now today, I actually feel quite okay with this,

Q: But not terribly happy with second - you prefer to be on the other side of the track.
MS:
Yeah, I mean, you know that second usually is a dirtier line and you may lose out because of this - we have to find out. It doesn't always make a difference but sometimes it can. I hope that it doesn't do here but tomorrow we will see.

Q: Ralf, you and Juan Pablo were fastest in the first sector. Did you feel that you lost the time after that or not?
RS:
Yeah, I certainly lost time into some corners but it always happens in a single lap qualifying - you never get it together. I think for us in general it is a great result. The last three races have been very good for us but we were expecting more difficulties here because this is a totally different circuit and it was very difficult for us here in previous years. But seeing that history it is really great and a good confirmation that the FW25 is going into the right direction, so that is very satisfying for myself and definitely for the team.

Q: So you are perfectly happy with third?
RS:
Well, given the circumstances and how close we are together then yes, I think we can be quite satisfied with what we achieved today. The race is tomorrow, I disagree with Michael in that I think we have the upper hand in tyres and I hope that we can show that tomorrow.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Kimi, when was the last time you started a race first?
KR:
It was 2000, I think, in Formula Renault in England. Slightly different!

Q: And do you remember where?
KR:
Erm, I think I was pretty much every race on pole.

Q: Has there been any ruling on the chicane because some guys are cutting across a bit and going over the bollards and some aren't. Has Charlie (Whiting) talked to you about that?
RS:
The rule is if you keep your front wing on the car it is fine! (Laughter)

Q: Were you all fairly unhappy about the bollards there? Did you all want them removed?
MS:
Well, I think there's a little bit of a mixed opinion but at the end of the day if you just remove them everybody would just go straight over and that is not the point of the chicane. But in all fairness the solution would be a different kerb, a higher one, because it is a bit low but that is something you can't do over the weekend so we have to stick to the bollards. I think the double solution that Charlie did actually worked out well.

Q: Michael, today we saw McLaren and Raikkonen first and cheering but I would like to know from you - you are almost used to being in pole position - what is left in personal satisfaction for a driver to be on pole with the new rules?
MS:
It is different, certainly, and it depends very much on how much fuel you think you have on board compared to the others. If you think you have a lot of fuel on board and you still get your pole position there is a lot of satisfaction. If you run very light and you get the pole it is a very poor satisfaction so that is where it comes to but sometimes you only find out on Sunday. But yeah, it's different to the past.