FIA post-qualifying press conference - Italy 13 Sep 2003
POST-QUALIFING PRESS CONFERENCE - SEPTEMBER 13, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m20.963s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m21.014s (+ 0.051s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m21.242s (+ 0.279s)
Published with permission from the Federation Internationale de l' Automobile.
Q: Michael, that is your fifth pole of the year, your first since Austria in May. Welcome back.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, thank you. It was a while that I haven't been around in this press conference but I think it was the right time to be back.
Q: It has been a difficult few months I would guess, particularly in the build-up to this race. Can you talk us through that and your expectations coming into the Italian Grand Prix?
MS: Basically the nature of the sport is that sometimes you have your ups and sometimes you have your downs. In the last two races we were a bit unlucky and we weren't quite competitive and thanks to the great effort of everybody in the team, in Bridgestone, everybody around, it has brought us back into a position where I think we deserve to be. Everyone is doing such a fantastic job that it is a great relief now to have both cars in the first three and being competitive from the test until this weekend. It is quite nice to be back in the final stage of the championship, obviously, imagining where we have been before and knowing where we are now. It gives us a bit of a relief.
Q: Juan Pablo, it is the first time this year you have been out on the track last for qualifying and it looked through the first two sectors as if you had the pole there.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah, it looked pretty good but I went into Ascari and I just got too much understeer going in. We are running a full race set-up, everybody is, but I just lost the front going in and I lost a lot of time there. This morning I went quicker than I went just now. It shows we have got the car to compete tomorrow. I think we are in a very good position for tomorrow and it is going to be quite interesting. The Williams team and BMW have done a fantastic job and we are still right there.
Q: We saw in Hungary a big difference between the clean and dirty sides of the grid. What is it like here at Monza?
JPM: Oh, hopefully it is not that bad. If we get a good start we are on the inside into turn one so it is going to be quite an interesting race.
Q: And an interesting turn one - there is a very tight chicane there.
JPM: Yeah, you know, just take it as it comes.
Q: Rubens, we didn't actually see the first part of your lap. What happened there?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, a minor mistake going into turn one and I lost the speed coming into two, which is a shame because the speed was there and the car was good as it was always in Monza for testing and the race. I lost out basically on sector one because the other two were pretty good. But it is a pleasure to be here in front of the Tifosi and have the two Ferraris on the first two rows. Tomorrow is going to be a hell of a race.
Q: Michael, well done. As you were saying it has been a little while since you sat in the middle seat in this press conference. You mentioned a lot of people had made a huge effort. What has physically changed and what has made the big difference?
MS: Basically everybody in the factory just put a lot of effort into every sort of detail. Probably the aerodynamic department and the engine department had the most margin to improve - and did so - because mechanically it is more difficult to do something. In those other two areas we have just done a fantastic job. Of course, Bridgestone really has given us a very good tyre, not that it hasn't been good before, but it altogether just suits the situation much better.
Q: After testing you thought you could be on pole position, at least on the front row, but Juan Pablo Montoya was up just a little bit on you until the final sector. Were you a bit worried there?
MS: I knew it would be a very tight situation and I mean, well, honestly, this little bit of difference shows that the situation is very equal.
Q: What about the race itself? It's all going to be about straight-line speed?
MS: No, you have to do some corners as well! At the end of the day you have to have the right set-up, the consistent set-up, to do all these lap-times consistently and that is what we have worked altogether for to achieve to the best we can and lets see who has done the job right.
Q: I did not see Rubens' straight-line speed but I think yours was about five kilometres per hour quicker than everybody else's.
MS: We were the same straight-line speed, Rubens and myself, but we were five clicks quicker to Juan, yeah.
Q: So that is quite encouraging for the race, presumably.
MS: Well it is certainly not a problem, yep.
Q: Looking at the grid, there is obviously just one Williams driver up there with you. Kimi was fourth, but you must be fairly pleased that the McLarens aren't that close at the moment?
MS: It is probably a little bit easier if you just have to fight one very close rather than two, sometimes it may even help you, so it depends the situation. But I am not pleased for anyone doing a lesser job - that is not my attitude.
Q: Juan Pablo, you were well up until the final sector but then you had some understeer, presumably in the Parabolica.
JPM: No, no, no. It was in Ascari. I went into Ascari and got out of the first curve and I was wide already. I knew it was completely over through there, so I lost a couple of tenths through there from what I have normally been able to do. You know, it's good. I think we have got a really good car, good strategy for tomorrow. This is a track we knew would probably be one of the closest with Ferrari towards the end of the year. It is a bit like the way it was before in the previous years where every time we came to Monza we were quicker but in the other tracks we were not. I think we should be pretty good in the last few races.
Q: You have had a team-mate change during the weekend. Does that make any difference to you?
JPM: No. Not really. I was trying to help him a little bit, the things I could, you know, little details and things, and I think he did a really good job and I think everyone was surprised. He was the first guy out today and even like that he put in a really good lap time. He probably could have been a lot closer to me if he had been in a different position.
Q: Are you worried about that straight-line speed, five clicks difference?
JPM: Not really. It is one or the other. You either pick the speed or you pick the downforce. We will see tomorrow afternoon whether we made the right decision.
Q: Rubens, you sounded a little disappointed about third place.
RB: Well, in a way, because it has been quite good all week and yesterday by a little bit I almost got the first place. This morning the car didn't feel very good but in the warm-up it felt good again so I had all the chances. Unfortunately we did change the brakes a little bit and I don't know if they were up to temperature or not when I first went to turn one. I lost the time there because it did slow down a little bit too much and then I locked the fronts and lost a bit of time. The time lost is all there because you can see that sector two and sector three we were very well matched. So I am a little bit disappointed not to be on pole position but I am still quite hopeful because it is going to be a very long race tomorrow.
Q: Exactly, and what are your feelings for the race, especially with your pal Juan Pablo just ahead of you.
RB: Well, it's nice that I am in between the guys who are on the top of the list in terms of the championship and we will have to see tomorrow. The race is quite open, I did a lot of work last week on the car in order to have the right set-up for the race, saving tyres, brakes, everything I could, and still have the straight-line speed. So I am very happy with it, we have to see how hot it is and how much we have.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: Michael, what is your opinion about your brother's problems? Have you spoken to him this morning?
MS: Nope. I didn't have the chance to speak about this because he left very early this morning. I just got the information...I heard last night already that he didn't feel well and I think it is the absolute correct decision for him to do what he is doing because an accident as he has had needs certainly time to recover from. I think that is the most reasonable decision he could have done.
Q: Were you surprised - because he seemed to be in really good shape?
MS: Yeah, that shows how tough Formula One is and how different Formula One is because we were out for a soccer game on Thursday night and he was feeling well and you wouldn't have expected anything. But then going in a Formula One car is certainly another story. It is a lot higher frequency and it is a completely different effort and obviously that didn't suit him and he couldn't take that, which is very understandable. I have some opinions from doctors and I have obviously been through other things in the past so I understand the situation.
Q: Juan, do you feel a bit penalised that Ralf is not here and cannot help you today and put himself in the middle of the contention between you and Ferrari?
JPM: You have got to think that Ralf was still in the championship, you couldn't really count him out. If for some reason any of us would DNF that is a position Ralf could take and he would be right back in it. If two of us would crash he could be in a really good position in the championship. I wasn't looking at Ralf as a guy, at this point, to help me with the championship. I have got to do it myself. I think having Marc here has been good for the championship, especially for the team. He did a really good job, he did a lot of long runs last week, so the main goal for Mark is to score some good points. We are still leading the constructors' championship and I am a point down on Michael so tomorrow we have got to do the best we can to try to keep that lead.
Q: Juan, how much do you think that having a new front tyre affected the lap time you were able to set?
JPM: Not a lot really. I am pretty happy. I think Michelin did a fantastic job with it and hopefully we can beat them with that. And it would be even probably more special.
Q: Michael, do you consider that during this summer Ferrari suffered more than other teams from the test ban?
MS: I wouldn't think so, no. There are just simply periods where the development phases of different teams may show up or don't show up and we simply have obviously not developed our performance enough before the summer break. I don't think we had anything more available to test, actually, during the break. It needed time to develop all those things and actually the summer break gives the opportunity to do this, where you sit at home and everyone has the freedom to look at a lot more different things than if you are doing the racing business and testing business.
Q: Michael, at the last three Grands Prix you were behind Rubens in qualifying and you are not used to that. How do you explain it happening three times in a row?
MS: There are many reasons. The first one is that Rubens is doing a very good job. He has got along with the car much better and it just suits him and he really puts it down to the point. I have not been so successful in that respect and we have had a couple of little issues of setting the car on top. So altogether with the tight lap times we have had in those races that puts you where I ended up.
Q: Michael, after Hungary your president said it was a performance that should never be seen again from Ferrari. So, you come here in Italy in front of your home crowd: Did you feel the pressure and how did that affect you today or may affect you tomorrow?
MS: The point is that when you have disappointing results you just really need to sit seriously together and think what have you done wrong? Where do you have to improve? The president is obviously very helpful in that in order to get us focussed to the right point. He obviously pinpoints the weakness from his point of view and you put the focus to this. But I think there is no sort of extra pressure on us that is unusual. We always have a certain pressure. We have been winning the championship for constructors and drivers the last three years and four years constructors, so our target is very clear and the sort of job we have done in the last two races is not acceptable, for no-one. So there is no extra pressure, especially with the result now. Everyone knows the job we have done proved to be right and we can go on and concentrate on racing.