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FIA Saturday press conference 05 Jul 2003

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams after his qualifying run.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Magny-Cours, France, 5 July 2003

POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE - 5 JULY 2003
1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m15.019s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m15.136s (+ 0.117s)
3. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m15.480s (+ 0.461s)


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

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Ralf. Third pole in four races, quickest this morning, replicated your warm-up time in your pole lap; it's starting to look a bit easy for you...
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
Well, you saw that Juan came very close so it wasn't very easy. It looks like we have a slight advantage with the Williams, so it's great for us being first and second definitely. The team did a great job. Just hope that we make a bit more out of it than we did in Montreal.

Q: How do you feel about the race tomorrow in terms of the dry weather running you've been able to do?
RS:
This morning it looked that we were always a lot quicker than Ferrari on the first lap but they seemed to be very consistent and quick, so it's going to be a very tough race and there are still the McLarens as well, so let's wait and see.

Q: Juan Pablo, how did qualifying go for you?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA:
Extremely well. This morning I was struggling with the car a lot. I wasn't very comfortable with it, I was driving, I couldn't really push the car because it would just snap or go or something. For qualifying, at least it felt a lot better. I had a big understeer in turn two, I lost a lot of time there in sector one, about two tenths off my morning session time. But apart from that, everything went really well. We got from being six tenths behind this morning to a tenth. It's a lot better.

Q: Fastest, in fact, in sector two.
JPM:
Yeah, sector two was pretty good, sector three as well. I picked up three tenths from this morning. It was definitely a lot better and I think for tomorrow we're going to have a really good race car.

Q: Michael, the temperature seemed to soar as you went out, up to 36 degrees; did that have much impact on your lap?
Michael SCHUMACHER:
I didn't notice that. I don't think so. I don't think it was a major variation and what you see as the official temperature, it (the thermometer) is positioned where the sun can hit it. If the sun is out, it gets warm, if it's in the clouds, it gets cold, so I don't think what you read there is realistic.

Q: Your brother had just said that after your good long run this morning you're in good shape for the race tomorrow. Would you agree with that?
MS:
I hope he's right.

Q: One has to say that you had a spectacular incident with Juan Pablo in the previous race; you're starting close to him tomorrow, what are your thoughts going into the race?
MS:
We have been very close to each other very often so I have no feeling about it. That's part of racing, that's what I look forward to.

Q: Is Ferrari's performance about where you expect it to be this weekend?
MS:
Probably not quite, no, because it's a circuit that should have been good for our car.

Q: Where do you think you might be losing at the moment?
MS:
I don't think we lose. I think the other guys have got very strong, that's the point.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q. Ralf well done. It's been quite a six days really, a win, your birthday and now pole position...
RS:
Yeah I have been good and the weekend has started good, but there is no points for pole position.

Q. So you would just like it to finish up like last weekend?
RS:
That's the target, yeah.

Q. We were saying at the start of the season that poor old Ralf doesn't seem to have got the hang of this one-shot qualifying. What have you changed because you certainly have got the hang of it now?
RS:
Certainly I didn't like the beginning of the season from the results. I knew from last year, if you go through the records, usually at the beginning of the qualifying I've always been reasonable. I think there were a few difficulties and maybe personally maybe I didn't get on very well with the car to start with, it seemed to be difficult to find a set-up and I didn't feel comfortable with it. Since a couple of races it seems to be a bit better.

Q. Have you changed your mental approach to qualifying in any way?
RS:
Not that I'm aware of.

Q. Second fastest straight-line speed going into the Adelaide hairpin, is that something that you were working away at as well?
RS:
For sure you always need to look at the speeds to not be overtaken on a long straight, which can always happen. Ferrari is very strong in the first sector, through the first two turns, so we need to watch our back a bit.

Q. I was also amused to see you waited until after Jos' (Verstappen) run before you congratulated the team...
RS:
Well anything can happen and to be honest it is a bit of respect against the driver as well. They are all good racing drivers and you have to wait until they finish.

Q. But obviously you were pleased with the lap...
RS:
The lap was good as always. You know all three of us will have a little mistake but that is the way it is.

Q. Juan Pablo yours....
JPM:
I had big understeer in turn two, lost a lot of time, and in turn seven but apart from that it was a pretty good lap. I picked up a lot of time from the morning, I really wasn't comfortable with the car and came in after warm-up and I was like you know 'I'm driving the car round but I'm not really pushing it'. Every time I was pushing the car I was quite uncomfortable and in qualifying I managed to get a good lap in. It felt a lot better, probably the best it felt all weekend, but probably a little too late.

Q. What did you change from this morning?
JPM:
Everything. Everything in the car. We worked very hard to get where we want to be and it seems that we are going in the right direction. Both cars are set up quite similar and I think tomorrow could be an interesting race.

Q. What about the McLaren challenge, are you surprised it is not as strong as it might have been?
JPM:
I think this circuit suits us pretty well, we were on pole last year as well. I think this is a very good track for Williams.

Q. Michael, very quick straight line speed and also the fastest time in sector one from everybody. Are you pretty happy with that, is that what you want given the possibilities of overtaking tomorrow?
MS:
If I could trade this against pole position I would have traded it. It is nice but it doesn't mean a lot if you are too slow in the other sectors.

Q. What is the situation with the other sectors, the importance of sectors two and three for example?
MS:
We are simply too slow. I am not able to compare because I do not have an overlay of those guys compared to me and I could probably answer that better.

Q. Do you think you are lacking grip?
MS:
Generally you need grip, but you need grip in the first sector too. So it is not just a matter of grip.

Q. Is this pretty much the same situation as the 'Ring last weekend?
MS:
We will find out tomorrow.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q. What are your feelings about the new sections here?
RS:
I personally think they did a good job, another overtaking opportunity. The last chicane was always a bit dodgy so a very good change.
JPM: Less exciting than last year. I thought last year was a lot better. It is a shame they made a really good braking but they put a corner before that. If you get a good run out of turn seven you can't really pass anybody because they can go wide and make the arc you know. It could have been a lot better job I think. It is a good job but if they were looking to find overtaking spots....
MS: To me I feel it is better than what we had because these twisty slow bits, the last sector, was sort of Mickey Mouse style flying over the kerbs and destroying cars on so on. I think it is a reasonable improvement. I'm happy.

Q. Question to Michael. You are almost half-a-second behind your brother, from where does the difference come from?
MS:
From the second and third sector. How can I answer this, I have no clue.