FIA post-race press conference - Italy 14 Sep 2003
Published with permission of the Federation Internationale De L' Automobile.
POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - SEPTEMBER 14, 2003
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h14m19.838s
2. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1h14m25.132s (+ 5.294s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h14m31.673s (+ 11.835s)
Q: Michael, this is almost a historic day for you, it is your fiftieth win for Ferrari.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, I think there are many things that come together here. It is quite a while ago that we won the last race, first of all. We have had tough races behind us, not just not winning but we failed to score the points we thought we would score. And then we had all this summer break and a big push in the team, in the factory, everywhere, everyone, really over the top, motivated and giving more than 100 percent of work and that's something which is unbelievable. I was able to pay that back a little bit with pole position yesterday but I think this is one of the greatest days in my career, honestly. I'm so thankful to everybody in the team because those guys have done a tremendous job, everybody from the test team, every engineer in the factory down to the lady who is doing the cleaning. Everybody is just so fantastic; I'm so in love with all those guys: just a big thank you.
Q: That opening lap was something to remember...
MS: Yeah, it was already tight in the first corner. I had a lock-up into the first corner and almost didn't make the chicane. I had the option to go straight on or make the chicane in a sort of not very good way. I thought it was better to do the chicane, although I might lose a position which almost happened, because Juan came on the outside and we had a nice fight through these two corners, very hard but fair and I think that's what people love to see. In the end I was able to win that fight and run up a lead which was vital to win the race.
Q: In the second stint, Juan Pablo got very close to you....
MS: For whatever reason the second stint didn't look as good for us, a little bit better for Juan, but still, we were obviously leading and in the final stage of even the second stint I was able to just open up a little bit of a gap because the thing just came back into my hands a little bit and I think that was crucial. Obviously then Juan thought he would come in early to use the opportunity with his first couple of laps to get in front of me, but in our last lap we were still strong enough to maintain the lead.
Q: Juan Pablo, could we have that first lap from your point of view?
JPM: I think it was pretty good. Michael went for the inside, I went for the outside. He braked quite a bit earlier than me and made up a lot of ground but when I came out of the chicane I was a lot tighter than him to make the corner so I didn't hit him and he just had better acceleration. On the first set of tyres, it was OK but my pace wasn't that good. I lost quite a bit of ground. In the second stint we made up a lot of ground, and in the last one we were pretty close and then got traffic. Twice I lost a lot of time and then behind the second Jordan driver I just lost so much time that I said just pace myself and get to the end.
Q: Did you actually face bad driving in traffic, or was it just the luck of the draw?
JPM: Just very slow backmarkers that didn't move out of the way, put it that way. But you know, I think it would have been very hard to pass Michael anyway.
Q: Juan Pablo, BMW Williams have been very strong here over the last two years, not quite as strong today, perhaps. How do you put that in relation to the regulation change we've had over the last week or so?
JPM: I don't think it's got anything to do with it. The way it looked the last few races, it seems that Ferrari was in a bit of our position over the last few years: that we struggle in most of the races, came here and were very strong. Whereas this year, perhaps we drop a little bit but we're still very strong. But they beat us here but I believe in the last two races, road courses, there are no more circuits, this is very low downforce and everything. I think in high downforce we should be strong again and McLaren and Renault should be very strong, and that could make the difference. I think I came out of here with the least loss possible. If I couldn't win, I had to try and finish second and I did. I only lost two points to Michael and I'm three points behind him and it's not over.
Q: Rubens, you were pretty close to Juan Pablo for a while, but in the end it was a defensive race of third place from Kimi Raikkonen.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah. To be honest, my first set was the best one. I had a little too much understeer to begin with and I lost time with Trulli. He seemed to think that he wanted to pass even Michael at the second chicane, so I lost time and all of a sudden I almost crashed into him when he had a problem and slowed down so I had quite a first lap. And then I was running quite fast, I caught Montoya up and it was really good but then after I put on my second set of tyres, it was never as competitive. The third one was even worse and I had a little bit of a problem with the rears and unfortunately my pace wasn't so fast. It was good enough to hold Kimi and so I did.
Q: Michael, Juan Pablo has been saying that he thinks that when we get to Suzuka and Indy, it might be a little different. How do you see the remaining two races?
MS: I think it's pretty open and it's going to be very interesting. That's all. I think we can look ahead and we can say I guess we have improved our situation. We will keep on improving. It just matters now in the final stage who improves more than the other.
Q: But do you agree with Juan Pablo's comment that this circuit suits Ferrari particularly and perhaps Williams BMW are going to be strong at Indy and Suzuka?
MS: I think our engine guys have done a tremendous job and the engine that we have should help us everywhere honestly. If you look back at the last three races it gives the impression that high downforce didn't suit us that well and low downforce suits us a little bit better but then I think there are some other factors that play into that and we'll find out. Indy isn't too high downforce, it's pretty similar to here or to Canada from my memory. We were simply strong here because we have a very good package, both aerodynamic and engine. We had it last year, we were already able to win last year with Rubens and myself so it's not a surprise we did win.
Q: Michael, it is an amazing podium here, what were your emotions when you were standing out there?
MS: Obviously I had the experience last year, not as first place driver but second and the emotions out there... it's just beautiful. First of all we won such an important race with all that has happened before and then you have all the emotions in front of you like that. It's just extraordinary.
Q: Obviously there are two races still to go, but is there a certain amount of relief amongst those emotions?
MS: Yes, there certainly is. We believed in ourselves all the way through. We knew that difficult times had happened, but we knew that we could fight our way back. But it's one thing to know it and another thing to do it and obviously, finally today, we did it and increased our championship lead by three points in the Drivers - I don't exactly know the Constructors situation, how that looks - but all in all that was a very important race for us.
Q: It was a fantastic race at a fantastic pace; was there a moment's relaxation?
MS: Obviously at the end Juan had some difficulty with traffic and then sort of drove it home safe and so did I then. So at that stage, it was a little bit easier.
Q: Did you get a good start off the line?
MS: Yeah. We worked very heavily on our start performance and obviously have improved that too. Usually we were beaten straight away at the start and this time that didn't seem to be the case. I don't have the full picture of everybody, I just looked at Juan and we sort off took off similarly, but then I took a little bit of an advantage and was easily in a comfortable first position at the first corner.
Q: He seemed to come at you and then drop back during the stints. Do you feel your tyre consistency was better than his?
MS: It's only true in the second stint that initially he seemed able to close the gap and I wasn't able to respond until a certain stage in the race, and then he came back into my hands and I was able to just open up the gap a little bit. I was doing a good pace and he decided mostly to come in a bit earlier.
Q: At the second stop, you came out behind a Williams. Were you a bit worried about that for a moment?
MS: I was indeed, because our team wasn't absolutely aware of who was who at that moment and initially they said 'you should be fine' and then suddenly they screamed in the radio 'watch out, he's coming' and I suddenly saw a Williams coming and I thought 'how did he do that?' (Laughter) Then I almost went off in one of the corners because I was pushing so hard to get a go at him, but then luckily it was Gene.
Q: Juan Pablo, it seemed as though it was going to be very, very, very important for you to overtake Michael at the start. You were trying very hard.
JPM: Not really. He made a mistake in the first corner, I had a run into the second corner. You know, if you have got an opportunity you have got to take it. I tried and we came out of the chicane pretty evenly but he seemed to be able to drive around the corner a bit quicker than me and he gained the advantage back. But, you know, it's just racing.
Q: You seemed to catch up with Michael each stint. Did your tyres tend to go off a bit?
JPM: The first set went off, the second was very consistent and the third, straight away from lap two I went out on new tyres and it wasn't the same as the second set. I think Michelin did a fantastic job to come up with this tyre and everything but it was just too close. I tried to catch him in the first stint and I got to Frentzen and I lost about a year behind him.
Q: I was going to come to that. You mentioned one of the Jordan drivers but also Frentzen you lost a lot of time behind.
JPM: Yeah, I am going down the straight and the only thing I see is like ten or twelve blue flags down the straight, it's like a parade, and they don't move. The Jordan guy suddenly just stands on the brakes in the middle of the corner to let me by. I nearly ran into the back of him and everything. It's just crazy.
Q: Now, there was a suggestion that perhaps they changed something on the car at the first pit stop. Are you aware of that?
JPM: Well, if they did it improved it. As far as I know they didn't change anything except tyres and fuel.
Q: How do you feel about second place after this?
JPM: Oh, I think it is good, you know. We know we are not going to win all of them. Like I said before, if you can't win you have to try to finish second. I only lost two points to Michael, we're still right there in the championship and the next race could be the other way around. We'll see. You have just gotta keep on fighting.
Q: Rubens, you had a bit of a go at Juan Pablo at one time, Kimi Raikkonen had a bit of a go at you. How serious were those two efforts?
RB: My car was really good at the first stop, as I mentioned before. I lost time at the first lap a little bit because of Trulli. I was running alongside him out of turn two and he put me on the grass. I backed off, had to defend myself against Kimi again, then I had a chance to have a go on him (Trulli) again at Lesmo one but he was seriously trying to have a go on Juan and all of a sudden his car stopped. But already Juan was two seconds away. At this circuit in particular, if you gain you gain two or three tenths max, so that is what I was gaining slowly. I got close to him, it was okay, but then I came to my first pit stop and the tyres didn't do the same as the first stint, unfortunately, and I just lost the pace. We were on a strategy to try to beat him on the second one because we were long on the third one and that basically just set me back a little bit and I had to defend with Kimi. Everything was in control but again I found the same person as Juan found and I lost two or three seconds in one lap and again my race was alive again at the end. But luckily I was still able to hold.
Q: So, third place.
RB: Well, it's great to be back. Third place is better than the wall! The last two races I have been in the wall and it hurt less to be in third place. So it's good for the constructors' and I am just happy for Ferrari that we are closer to Williams in a way to try to win the championship in the constructors'.
Q: Michael, we have just worked out that you have won the fastest Grand Prix in history. Your average speed of 247km/h was 5km/h faster than the previous record. What are your thoughts on that?
MS: Well, I guess it is so long ago I wasn't even alive at that stage when the first one was set. Or was I? (MS is told it was in 1971) Ah, '71. Those two weren't (alive)! No, I don't think very strongly about that. It doesn't give me a pleasure. Ten points and fastest lap and things like that, they give me far more pleasure.
Q: Juan Pablo, your car was not as fast as the Ferrari's on the straight. Do you have any complaints for the set-up?
JPM: No, we went for more downforce because we thought it would keep the tyres more alive and if you look at the average laps it was pretty good. In the first stint Michael was a little bit quicker, in the second one I was quicker, I was catching him. On the last set of tyres we had some problems and that was it. But I think the way we ran the car was for us the optimum way. You could take the wing off - look at Mark's speed and you will see it was higher than mine because he went with a different set-up to mine. I ended up I don't know how many seconds in front of him so I think my decision was probably better.
Q: Juan, you seemed to suffer in the second sector whereas the first and the third you were the same or even quicker. What was the problem in the second one?
JPM: I had quite a bit of instability into the chicane and into the first Lesmo. I was trying to push but it was a bit critical, too on the edge. You push when you have to push but some laps you are sliding so much you are better off taking it a bit easier. By trying to make up a tenth you ended up losing three or four, so it was not worth it.
Q: Juan Pablo, could you confirm that you lost time in the third stint just because of traffic or was there some warning from the telemetry?
JPM: No, I was about a second behind Michael and the team told me I was taking two or three tenths of a lap from him then I got to Frentzen and I was suddenly four seconds behind him. Then we were quite even, then I got to, what's his name, the Jordan guy, the new guy. Er, Baum...(He is told it is Baumgartner) Yeah. I don't remember his last name, sorry. It's very difficult! (Laughter) You know, I lost about another two or three seconds and then I said, you know, I can push as hard as I can and take three or four tenths out of Michael. By the time the race is over I am going to be four seconds behind. That's useful! I knew we had to finish and fight for another day really. You can't do anything else today.
Q: Michael and Rubens, traditionally your car is very fast here in the low downforce circuit. But next two rounds you have more downforce. Do you think you will be so competitive as you were here?
MS: I don't know if Ferrari traditionally is good on low downforce. I think it is only maybe the last two years, if at all, and last year I think we were traditionally quick everywhere actually! Indy is not really high downforce, it is probably more on the lower downforce side. If it is just down to the characteristic of how much downforce you use I would be surprised. I think a lot more factors will play a part. What I said before is valid for the end of the championship, honestly. I think we will be competitive for the last races, not only for here.
Q: Michael and Juan Pablo, most of us enjoy a bit of competitive driving on the road. You two guys went into that first sequence of corners with the world championship possibly at stake. What were your feelings when you were actually alongside each other and then when you got out of that sequence of corners. Was your heart going a bit more than normal?
JPM: Not for me, really. We're racing, I saw it was probably going to be the clearest chance to pass Michael and I had to give it a try. If you don't try, you don't succeed. What can you do? Just brake, turn, and see what happens. (Laughter).
MS:Except it is exciting, to have a manoeuvre and to be so close but you don't really think of anything else but that situation and try to handle it appropriately.