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FIA post-race press conference 06 Jul 2003

(L to R): Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams, Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari in the post-race FIA press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, 6 July 2003

POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - 6 JULY 2003
1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1h30m49.213s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h31m03.026s (+ 13.813s)
3. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m08.781s (+ 19.568s)


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

TV UNILATERALS

Q: It looked fantastic but very close with Juan Pablo in the final stages of the races.
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
Yes, it was. I was able to disappear in the first two... after the first pit stop basically, but then in the second one, I don't know, maybe we got the pressures wrong - we might have to check that later. The car didn't feel very good; I had some problems with that set. So Juan came closer. I had problems with overtaking manoeuvres, lapping guys and Trulli, who slowed down and I just couldn't overtake him because there was yellow (flags) so I saw him (Montoya) going in and called the team to make a place for me after because I knew that if I had stayed out a lot longer he would have caught me and I would have looked pretty strange so I didn't want that to happen.

Q: But an awe-inspiring performance today; how long do you think this can go on now for BMW Williams?
RS:
That's always the question in Formula One. I think if the two of us, including the team, keep working like that we can keep it going. But there will be circuits where, for sure, it's going to be tough again but certainly we are going in the right direction. We have a long test next week, hopefully go through a lot of stuff there, find some stuff for the next few races and continue doing this.

Q: Juan Pablo, very good second place. It looked like quite a long first stop but then you got very very close to Ralf at the end?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA:
Yeah. My first stint wasn't very good, I wasn't very comfortable driving the car, couldn't really push, I was losing quite a lot of time, especially in the last sector. And then it seems it got a bit better, I came into the pits, I think they had a problem with a wheel nut or something. I came into the pits about three seconds behind Ralf and came out seven or eight seconds behind him. I paced myself and started pushing so I could run the same pace as him, so I started pushing very hard and before the last stop I was right there with him. I decided to come in two laps earlier and Ralf decided to come in the lap after so all the advantage that I made, it wasn't really... I probably needed another second, but it wasn't there, so after that I just backed off.

Q: You did set fastest lap and you seemed to gain quite a lot of time when the oil was down and in traffic.
JPM:
Yeah, the car was very good. I was pretty aggressive with the traffic, to be able to go by quicker and it seemed to work quite well but I think it's great for the team. I don't know how many points we're behind Ferrari but it's not that many now.

Q: Michael, you were hoping that on that side of the grid you could make a good start but in fact Kimi Raikkonen got in front of you going into turn one; could you just talk us through that?
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Pretty easy: he out-accelerated me and was in front of me and I even had to fight against Coulthard who came very close to me and we were side-by-side through turns one and three which was quite exciting.

Q: But you made up for that later in the race, ran five laps longer than Kimi for that third stop and came out ahead of him to get the podium finish.
MS:
Yeah, that was the only opportunity, knowing that that they had stopped very early, all the first two stops, which meant that the last stop they did was with a lot of fuel. We knew they didn't have new tyres, so we hoped that our tyres would hold together and I could do the pace I did and that brought us the advantage towards them.

Q: Quick summary of your race today; do you think that was as good as you could have expected here this weekend?
MS:
Well, you always hope for better but looking at the weekend's pace overall that was about what we thought we would do.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Been quite an eight days, now, hasn't it Ralf?
RS:
It's great. I still can't believe it, winning two in a row, simply great and finally I did it from pole position. As I said before, it was very tight with Juan after I hit traffic and had some problems with one set of tyres, but then I came in a lap early and then I was OK.

Q: In the opening laps you were just disappearing?
RS:
Well, the car was very good to start with, that was the plan. I struggled a bit in Nürburbring so I tried to get it right from the start onwards. I worked on the start, worked after the first pit stop, after the second I struggled a bit and that was when he came close.

Q: Then there was the tiniest moment that you had about five laps from the end...
RS:
Ah, going a bit wide in turn seven, I think. Yeah. I don't know why. Maybe I thought about something else. No, I just braked a bit late and that was it. Nothing special. That was the only one but my team came (on the radio) straightaway - I guess it was on telly - asking if everything was alright.

Q: What about the backmarkers; they seemed to make quite a difference?
RS:
Yeah, it's always the same problem. Blue flags still come a bit late although they are trying to be fair, but some of them go away quicker, but even then, it costs you time. It's always the same problem and I understand that for the backmarkers, the guys, it's difficult to understand, but it costs you anything between five tenths and a second, and obviously every tenth is really important for me or was important for me at that stage. It's always a bit of a problem when you're leading, you can't really hit that much, and I had a yellow flag, the oil on the circuit and oil stuff, so I took it a bit easier maybe there and lost most of it there.

Q: How bad was the oil?
RS:
The oil wasn't the problem. It's just when you go there once or twice you take it a bit easy because you don't want to look stupid and spin off on the oil. If you're seven years in Formula One and you still do it you look pretty stupid I guess. That's why.

Q: Juan Pablo, second place, happy with that?
JPM:
Er, yeah. It was a bit struggle for the first few laps of the race. I wasn't comfortable with the car. I was calling the pits every half a lap to see what I could do to try to improve it. Halfway through the stint it started to come back and after that it was good. I went top in all three sectors and had the fastest lap of the race. It's been two in a row like that. In the last stop, it was close but it wasn't close enough.

Q: How were the tyres at the end?
JPM:
Ah good. It was fine. When I came out with Ralf, I knew there was nothing I could do. Here, this is the trouble, you can't really overtake. It's nearly the same as Monaco. You don't have the chance to pass somebody here.

Q: You were losing a lot of time to Michael at the end. Was that your decision to ease up?
JPM:
Yeah, we had ten laps left and he was about 20-odd seconds behind, so I didn't really bother.

Q.:Michael what was your reaction to that?
MS:
Yeah. You never know what happens.

Q: How was the car today?
MS:
As good as it could have been honestly. For us it was sort of maximum. We had a bit of a struggle with the second set; the second stint was probably the slowest overall because afterwards it was pretty good for us.

Q: How worried are you about the Williams-BMW's at the moment? Obviously two victories, two one-two's in two races...
MS:
Obviously you need to be concerned about it. We see what they do, we know what we do and we obviously work very hard at home to get our acts together to improve the situation.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: A question for Michael. Your tyre company Bridgestone has played a big part in your successes, this is not a time to panic but what can you do? What is the next step? You've got a big test coming up I understand, but is it a moment to start thinking about taking bigger steps forward with the tyres or are you going to chip away at it a little bit at a time?
MS:
No we basically stay concentrated and we will work together in order to improve the situation. I think everybody knows what we have to do.

Q: What is that?
MS:
If I let you know Ralf would listen as well

Q: But if we all know what you have got to do...
MS:
Maybe I will tell some secrets. There is no point to get into this.

Q: Michael, at the beginning of the season you kept saying that your new car was fantastic. Do you still feel the same?
MS:
We have a very good car indeed, but obviously so have Williams.

Q: For the Williams guys, you were obviously very close when the final stops were coming up, Ralf was leading the race and yet Juan stopped first, which I think is an advantage. How was that decided?
RS:
He decided it himself, but it was pretty easy because we both ran into traffic and after I saw him disappear in I thought 'whoops, you have to get your act together' and that is why I decided to come in the lap afterwards. I must say the guys did a great job because I called them straight away and they got everything prepared after sending him out, so thanks to the team.

Q: A question to Michael. Are you worried that you can only test this week and then only in September and then Formula One goes to the USA and Japan?
MS:
It is the same for everyone.

Q: But you are at the back at the moment?
MS:
At the moment. In Formula One we have often seen, in particular in the years '97, '98 and '99, we had phases where we were behind and suddenly minor things make the thing turn. It is not like we are completely lost, I gained another point in the championship lead to Kimi (Raikkonen) today. So all-in-all we know we are a bit behind the Williams, but we feel confident that we can change it around.

Q: Juan Pablo how many laps after the third pit-stop did the team give you orders to back off?
JPM:
They didn't. Ralf came in front and I knew there was nothing to do. Here there is a lot of fast corners so you can't really follow anybody so I just decided to back off and get to the end. Probably I did have half of the first lap and he was on fresh tyres and I had already done a lap on my tyres so he was going to be quicker. I just backed off straight away.

Q: A question to the two Williams boys. How confident are you of being able to make a title challenge of the car?
RS:
As Michael said in Formula One you can never be confident. I think we are doing a very good job all together at the moment. As Ferrari are going to go testing some new bits, a very busy test schedule in order to try and keep it where it is. But you never know. All of a sudden they could make a big step. It is going to be very tough I'm sure but we will try and stay where we are and to keep basically going from race-to-race and trying to get the next result out of it.

Q: Michael, without Bridgestone today would you win or would you lose. How do you think?
MS:
It would be very difficult to run without tyres.

Q: If I could ask the three drivers how they assess their chances for Silverstone?
RS:
Silverstone, well you never know. It is a different circuit.
MS: Is it?
RS: Okay let's wait and see who will win that one. New battle here! We have had tests, they were looking pretty good for us. I guess for the last five races we have been competitive, why shouldn't we be there.
JPM: I think it will be pretty hard but you never know. The first three tests we did there we were really strong, the last test in hotter conditions I was still fastest but it looks like they have a little but more consistency than us. But we've got newer tyres now so it might be better.
MS: I think we had a good test in Silverstone so we hope that it is good for us.

Q: A question for Ralf. As far as I remember at this time of the season that you look in such good shape in the championship. It is the first time, am I right?
RS:
Yep. From where we were usually it is not so difficult is it? I think in the last four years we haven't been looking so consistent or so good so that is why. It might look good at the moment but it can all change around. There is still quite a few races to go so I don't want to think about it at the moment.

Q: At this time of the season then it is the first time you are looking like the second Schumacher, looking in good shape to win the championship. I just wanted to know what is going to be on your face at that time when someone can tell you this...
RS:
Well certainly every driver who joins Formula One would love to win the title one day. Honestly I am waiting very long for that and am aware of the situation that it might be possible this year, but it is still so far away still. Since the points are so different this year, the gaps are a lot smaller and it became more difficult simply. Let's wait and see what the next races and doing and then continue talking about it maybe.

Q: Michael, you did lose a position at the start. I just wondered if there was anything with your car of if you could explain that...
MS:
No I need to check what is going on, whether it was me with a bad reaction time or whatever. I don't know.