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FIA Thursday press conference 31 Jul 2003

(L to R): Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams, Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren and Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 31 July 2003

THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 31 JULY 2003
DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAM), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI) and Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS)


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

Q: A question for all you: there have been seven different winners in eleven races this year, five still to go, you all have a chance in the championship. How much are you looking at the championship, and how do you rate your chances?
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
Honestly, I think, race by race. I think it's been quite good to have won the last race and put me a little bit better into the championship. It's closer than ever, but it's probably one of the most difficult situations as well because you have ten points for the first and five points for the fourth - something like this - so it's still quite difficult to get back all the points that we have lost during the season. So it's possible but I don't know, I want to win races now, so I'm not thinking of the championship.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Same, really. You've got to take it race by race and see what happens. I've got to make sure I finish every race and take good points home and if you can win a race, go for the win, if you can finish second, finish second. When you get to the end of the season, you see where you are. It's very difficult to say which way it's going to go.
Ralf SCHUMACHER: Basically the same. Simply, you have to finish every race and score the points and see where you are, and hopefully win as many as possible. To win races? The package has been brilliant recently. I have been quick in the last five races, so I wonder what I should change, so I guess we have reasonably good chances to win races this year.
Michael SCHUMACHER: I guess everybody sitting here have their opportunities and possibilities to win the race because we have all been so close together that it's very difficult to predict, but at least we all have the opportunity.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I guess it's as good as any of the other guys. Like they say, it's difficult to catch up even seven points but as long as we keep scoring good points and hopefully more than the others it's fine.

Q: Kimi, how do you feel about the new car situation? Are we likely to see it, or are you just as happy to continue with the old car?
KR:
Actually I'm quite happy with the car that we have now, with the 17D. OK, it's up to the team if they make the decision to bring the new car or not but I think it's (the 17D) quite good enough still to win races as long as you get everything right in a race week. OK, it's always difficult but it's good enough.

Q: Do you have any say whether you want the new car or not?
KR:
No. Like I say, I'm happy with what we're doing now and we'll let the team do whatever they want.

Q: Michael, first of all, football yesterday, lots of people, high scoring match, how did you enjoy it?
MS:
Yes, every year it's a great event, I have to say. It's organised very well and it has established itself even better. We've had good players there, a full stadium, a good atmosphere, so I was really impressed with the way it was and it was great fun for me.

Q: An interesting rumour from the German press about Jacques Villeneuve moving to Ferrari in the future; what do you think of that?
MS:
I have no feelings about that honestly. There have been plenty of rumours and we know the media, how easy it is to make a rumour so it's probably one of them. I don't see any seriousness in that honestly. I think we want to improve our situation...

Q: Ralf, it has been suggested that you are looking for a long-term contract with Williams, that Willi Weber is looking to sort that out. Is that happening? What are your feelings about it?
RS:
It is difficult to say at the moment. My contract only finishes at the end of next year so it is far too early to talk about it.

Q: But at this stage surely you could sign an extension to it?
RS:
I don't know. We haven't really talked to each other yet. There's no necessity, is there?

Q: So you are just happy to see it out for the moment?
RS:
Yes, I am happy where I am, hopefully we will have a good season and then we'll see.

Q: Juan Pablo, a similar question. There have been things in the press about you being offered a contract by McLaren.
JPM:
Well, there are always rumours about it, rumours one way or the other but at the moment I have a contract with Williams until the end of '04 and then after that we will have to wait and see what happens. There's still 2003.

Q: So you would say there is no truth in it?
JPM:
No, not really.

Q: Rubens, obviously fresh from your win at Silverstone. Apparently it was well received in Brazil even if you didn't have the trophy sadly - what happened?
RB:
There was a big confusion in the airport when I left because the flight was cancelled and in the middle of the big mess somebody just went over the trophy and it went down. I have got all the pieces but there are a lot of pieces.

Q: Are you having a new one made?
RB:
Yes. I hope so.

Q: What did Brazil think about the win?
RB:
Like always, either you are very good or you are (terrible). So this time I was very good. (Laughter).

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Michael and Rubens, Formula One in your countries is very popular but it is also popular throughout the world. What is it about Formula One that makes it more popular than any other form of motorsport?
MS:
I guess it starts with the fact that most human beings love cars and Formula One is the ultimate speed for car racing, the highest competition you have in car racing and I guess it is the main reason why it is loved so much. It gives very entertaining races over a long time of life as I remember and it has grown in popularity.
RB: I think in Brazil Formula One is as popular as football because since the 1970s when there were the championships that Pele won and so on, football was even more known than Formula One but I think in Brazil because of the TV recognition you can see Formula One is the main thing. You can try all the different categories but Formula One is the main thing people like to watch. Even though we have some races that are quite bad in terms of audience, the last race was phenomenal, so Formula One is still on top.

Q: For all the drivers: do you think this World Championship would have been so close without the new regulations?
RS:
I don't think it is down to the regulations. Maybe part of it, but I think in my opinion it is down to the teams; performances were a bit weak. At the beginning of the season one team was pretty strong, then came another team and all of a sudden it is us stepping into it and that's part of the reason. And if anything the points system helps it a bit but I don't think that the qualifying actually changed the results.
MS: Yup, I feel that except for qualifying, you can maybe argue that the new rules do change positions but at the end of the race it all comes back to a normal situation and that is not due to the rules.

Q: Was that the situation at Silverstone, do you think, that the two safety car periods had massed up the order so much that you had quicker people coming through from the back which made a much more exciting race.
MS:
Yeah, but this was nothing to do with the rules. That is another subject. Put simply, racing and fighting for position and why we have such a close championship is simply because everyone is much closer together.
KR: The same. I think nobody knows really. Is it really the new rules or something else because we will never know. I guess the teams are, like Michael says, much more close together now and it makes it more interesting.
RB: I think it has changed in a way - for the better or for the worse - it has changed. I don't personally think that we have to calculate the points with the other rules because that is not the way it is going to be. I think we just have to enjoy the new rules as much as we can right now. It is different, but I don't think Silverstone was because of the new rules, it was just because of the safety car and it was a bit of a mess in the middle of the race, and that made it more exciting.
JPM: The same.

Q: Michael and Rubens, at Silverstone the characteristics of the circuit suited your car. Here is a little different, there aren't so many high speed corners. Do you think it will be harder race between you and Williams and McLaren?
MS:
I don't know honestly. You may think that way, but I think since we have done quite a significant step forward with the car side from Silverstone onwards I believe that that's not really the case, that it is true to justify this profile. Let's wait and see.
RB: We made the improvement after Magny-Cours, so I think that even so, we think it's going to be very competitive. We've made an improvement, it remains to be seen. Of course, Silverstone was quite good for us but, as it was here last year; it was quite good as well so by making an improvement, I hope it's enough.

Q: It's for Kimi. You are in a slightly different situation from all the other guys here because you are the only driver in your team having a realistic chance to win the championship. Could it be an advantage for you?
KR:
Er, no. I don't really know. I think that in one way it could be easier to have David in the fight, and the points going more to different people but I don't think it makes a big difference.

Q: Michael, you drive one of the best cars in the world. If you had a chance, just for fun, to try a different kind of racing car, just for testing, what would you like to do?
MS:
I would like to drive a better car. I don't know any. As a racing driver, you like to improve yourself and find new challenges and I don't think there's anything beyond Formula One, at least for me.

Q: A question for all the drivers; the championship is much more interesting for all us on this side of the microphone; how much more interesting is it for you, because it's so much more close, there's more competition, five of you pitching for it?
MS:
I guess we have different opinions here this time. To some degree a fight is always great but honestly I didn't mind the last three years either.
RS: Well, for me, I don't know. I've always said that realistically there is a theoretical chance, but obviously, Silverstone has proven how quickly the chance goes away. So I'm just trying to score as many points as possible and not concentrating on the championship.
JPM: I think it's pretty good. I think you have to really wait and see how far it goes. We've still got five to go, so I think it will be really interesting if it can go all the way, I think for the fans. Whoever is leading probably wants to finish it before, but everybody else probably wants to finish before that.
RB: I think it's quite interesting for us, as well. It's not the fact of who's going to win at the end, it's the fact that we have different winners in different races. It's made it quite interesting. You can see that from the public, we can see it from our point of view: we have more racing. You could go home saying 'I didn't have a good qualifying lap but tomorrow I could be OK' and it's not every day it's like Silverstone, but you know, if you have overtaking, you can be happy. I think it's quite interesting for us as well.
KR: Um, yeah. Of course it's a new situation for me but it's an interesting season. OK, it's very difficult and hard, but I guess that's what makes it more interesting for all of us.