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Post-qualifying press conference - Japan 10 Oct 2004

The FIA Qualifying Press Conference (L to R): Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams, second; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, pole; Mark Webber (AUS) Jaguar, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 33.542s; 2nd Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1m 34.032s; 3rd Mark Webber (Jaguar), 1m 34.571s.

Q: Michael, quickest in both sessions on Friday, on pole, you have made it look easy but it wasn’t an easy weekend so far.
Michael SCHUMACHER:
It certainly was a very different weekend and, I have to say, whatever happened yesterday it was a fun day for us, we did quite a lot of things amongst the drivers together which I don’t think has ever happened in that way. And today, yes, circumstances were very difficult. Obviously no free practice at all, straight into qualifying with mixed conditions, first time in the dry this weekend at all, so quite a lot of things came together and made it worth a lot to get the pole position today.

Q: It didn’t look to be a particularly easy lap for you. It wasn’t as if you were out late and therefore the lap time came, it was very close for most of the lap with your brother Ralf.
MS:
Yeah, obviously, the top three sitting here run behind each other, basically. I was obviously luckier than Rubens (Barrichello), being out second last car having better circumstances, obviously, and everything worked perfectly well and that is why we are up there.

Q: Ralf, congratulations on not only your front-row grid position but also your comeback from that accident at Indianapolis.
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
Thanks. I mean, today was really a gamble, but it was good. Thanks to David (in reference to the incident in the Grand Prix of China with David Coulthard) I was 17th today to be out on the track in pre-qualifying and that definitely helped me to be in a good position for the second one and fortunately in drying out conditions the later you are out the better it is.

Q: The car got a little bit loose, it looked, coming into the last chicane there but it didn’t lose you much time.
RS:
Not too much, no. I think I was a little bit late on brakes, like last year I keep having a problem with this new chicane because I am so used to the old one. (Laughs) That is the main problem I have here, obviously, but it was pretty loose because there were some wet patches and straight away you lose the grip. But in general the car was good to drive and I think there is a good chance to score some good points today.

Q: Mark, a great pre-qualifying lap in difficult conditions and you made the most of it in qualifying.
Mark WEBBER:
Yeah, qualifying one definitely put us in a good position for the main qualifying position itself, giving us the best, or some of the best conditions in terms of the track so that lap was the most important one this morning and the second one was a bit easier in some ways. Enjoyable to drive, tyres did a good job and the car was good so I’m looking forward to the race.

Q: What has it been like in terms of these difficult months with Jaguar and the closing of the team; what is the atmosphere like?
MW:
The race team has been extremely professional. You’d expect nothing less. The guys only know how to work one way and in China we did as best as we could. Finishing tenth there for us is not a bad afternoon and hopefully we can get some good points today. It’s going to be a tough race for us probably, but we’ll give it absolutely everything and see what we can get out of it but it would be nice to finish on a high for the guys. Paddy, Alan Maybin, it’s his last race this weekend and he has been in Formula One for a long time so our luck was with Paddy, so good luck mate.

Q: Michael, as you say, a very strange weekend. Could you just talk us through what it has been like preparing for the race? A lot of guesswork, but interesting to see Bridgestone saying yesterday that they got enough data from the wet running on Friday to be able to have some input on the dry tyre choice.
MS:
Indeed, obviously you get some idea of where you are anyway. Bridgestone obviously know this circuit well so they have a lot of information and it wasn’t too difficult to find the right choice. I guess where we are, we are not here by accident and therefore we should be looking very strong in the race as well.

Q: Do you like this qualifying on same day as racing?
MS:
It’s obviously very interesting. In a way, looking back now to China, I should be thankful for not having been so good in China because that’s obviously made it possible for me to be where I am now. So, qualifying on the same day, yes, rather awkward I would say.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Michael, you really picked up the time at the end of the lap in conditions which don’t always favour Bridgestone tyres.
MS:
Obviously, having sort of damp conditions doesn’t really help us normally but luckily the conditions weren’t too bad out there and I was able to manage to put in a lap without too many mistakes.

Q: As I say, you seemed to pick up time at the end of the lap?
MS:
Yes, it’s rather strange. I thought I would have picked up the time in the first and second sectors, especially the first but there you go.

Q: So, who were the stars in bowling and football yesterday?
MS:
All of us!

Q: Ralf, a faster middle section than your brother. Did it feel that good?
RS:
Well, it felt relatively good. I thought the time was reasonable. Obviously we all know that Ferrari is the stronger car so with the conditions drying out I expected him to be... It could have been close but we expect him to be there.

Q: Mark, couldn’t be a better advertisement for the team, really.
MW:
No, not at all. It was a good day for us so far. Only 10 per cent of the work is done but in general the guys have done a really really good job. It’s the last race for Paddy, Alan Maybin, my number one mechanic, so I just want to say thanks to him as well because he’s maybe watching, so that’s for you Al.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) Tell us what you did yesterday.
MS:
Bowling, soccer, lunch.
MW: No, we were all together, generally, well most of us, about ten of us, so, yeah, we had a good day.