Post-qualifying press conference - San Marino 24 Apr 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Jenson Button (BAR), 1m 19,753s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 20,011s; 3rd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), 1m 20,212s.
Q: Jenson, what a lap, what a fantastic lap, here on Ferraris home soil too!
Jenson BUTTON: Thank you. It was, it was a great lap and I enjoyed it very much. In pre-qualifying I was a little wide because I had very low grip, but in proper qualifying it seemed to be all there, it seemed to be very similar to this mornings car, so I was very happy, and I dont think there were any mistakes.
Q: It looked like a perfect lap. You spoke after Bahrain, after the race, of perhaps wanting to concentrate more on the set-up for qualifying. Is that what happened here?
JB: We set the car up for the race, as everybody does but we were lacking in qualifying a little bit. I dont know why. We seemed to lose a lot of time when we got to qualifying, but here we seemed to have resolved that problem well, obviously we have.
Q: You cant escape the atmosphere here at Imola, it is tremendous. Youre on the pole for this race; describe your feelings about the race for tomorrow?
JB: I cant wait. Qualifying is one thing, but obviously winning a race is the main goal. I think thats going to be a little bit tougher than todays qualifying. But yeah, Im looking forward to it. Its the first time in my Formula One career that Ive had nobody in front of me at the start, so its all down to me now.
Q: Michael, you were up there halfway through the lap and it just fell away a little bit as you came out of the top chicane.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah. As Jenson really put in a very good lap it was all or nothing and I tried very hard, and I just overdid it a little bit at that place, and actually I was lucky to keep it on the circuit and not go completely into a spin. Lucky it was just good enough for second then, and its going to look like an interesting race for us tomorrow.
Q: Three wins in a row, looks like great weather, fantastic atmosphere: how do you see the race going tomorrow for you?
MS: Indeed, I think its going to be a very interesting race, a tight battle I believe. Its going to be interesting to see how the other cars sort themselves out into the first corner because there honestly are some potential drivers among one another and it will be interesting to see how that all works out.
Q: Juan Pablo, it was looking very good for you there in the previous session; tell us how it went in qualifying?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think it went really well. As you can see, we took little fuel in the first qualifying because we wanted to run last and as you see, the track got better and it worked quite well for us. I think weve got a very good race car. I was actually lacking pace on new tyres and with the work we did it seemed to come to me a little bit. Im very pleased to be honest. The first time Ive actually out qualified Ralf here, so its good.
Q: Were seeing a bit of a BMW Williams resurgence here now; how do you think its going to go in the race tomorrow?
JPM: I think we have a very strong race car. It will be interesting to see what happens really; with Jenson I think its going to be a close battle. He put up a lot of good laps today, but I think in the race its going to be a lot closer. And the question is how the Bridgestones are going to behave against the Michelins, but I definitely think were in the game.
Q: Jenson congratulations. You keep breaking down these records, your own personal bests. What does this one mean?
JB: Im pleased weve got no cars in front, which is a positive definitely. It is a fantastic feeling to get pole here especially on Ferraris turf and Im very pleased.
Q: It seemed that all the time came in the final sector, a full half-a-second in the final sector. Did you concentrate on that?
JB: The final sector was very good this morning. It is just trying not to overheat the tyres too much for the last sector. It was a great lap and I dont think I made a mistake anywhere round.
Q: The first two sectors were good as well?
JB: As good as I could have done. I was flat out.
Q: The final sector, that is all about keeping the rear tyres together is it, or cool?
JB: It is and there is the top chicane, which is pretty tough, which I think I have gained a lot of time over the week, but also the last chicane. Obviously you have got to be very careful through there because the kerbs are quite big and it is very easy to unsettle the car.
Q: What is the teams reaction to Michaels fairly short stints over the last couple of races? You havent by any chance gone for a similar strategy, have you?
JB: Our strategies seem to work every race weve been to for us. Weve been very strong on the last few stints and that is important for us and we are looking at the end result.
Q: Michael, obviously it all went wrong in the Variante Alta didnt it? Did you hit the kerb too hard, what happened there?
MS: Honestly the time I lost over there wouldnt have been enough to beat Jenson. I think it wouldnt have been enough anyway. For me it is not a surprise because he put in a very good lap and I sort of anticipated that they would be strong here this weekend.
Q: You were two-tenths up going into the last sector
MS: Yeah but if you look all weekend we were very good in the mid-sector in particular, sort of even in the first sector and maybe a bit slower in the last sector.
Q: You didnt do a huge number of laps in the second session this morning, do you feel you were missing that little bit of track time?
MS: No were pretty happy. Weve been here in the wintertime testing the car so we pretty much knew what we wanted and what we had to do. We felt there was nothing more to achieve.
Q: And in the pre-qualifying session, you felt that one was okay as well?
MS: Yeah. It was low grip being again the road sweeper and it was reasonable but not perfect.
Q: I mentioned the short stints just now, the last one was nine laps in Bahrain. Do you think other drivers are going to copy that strategy?
MS: Ask the other drivers. I dont know.
Q: Have you been worried that they are going to follow you and you are then going to change it all together for this race?
MS: It could be. It could be that some people would like to adapt and do a certain strategy, but it is all speculation. Well leave it open until tomorrow.
Q:Juan Pablo, did you hope you were going to be quicker after pre-qualifying?
JPM: Not really. I said before, I was talking to my engineer and said it would be more like a 20.5 and then people start going quicker and I thought a 20.0, it was good because thats what we were expecting. It was very hard to judge. The track was getting so much quicker and this morning, you thought it could be a 20.9 or a 21 you never know. Then you see Jensons time and you go like Jesus Christ, where am I going to pull the time?. He did a bloody good job!
Q: Whats made the difference during the weekend? What sort of things have you been changing this weekend, because it seems to have got a lot better?
JPM: Yesterday was a complete disaster. After the first session I wanted Sunday. Then working hard with the team, we came around mechanically, especially change the car completely and made bigger steps.
Q: Were you still making steps between the pre-qualifying and the qualifying?
JPM: Not really. Pre-qualifying just put the fuel back for the race on Sunday.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport): Jenson do you remember your last pole position?
JB: No. It was a long time ago. It would have been in 99 in Formula Three. I went go-karting last year but I dont think that counts!
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport): Did you come here for the winter test?
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport): So it was even more important?
JB: Weve been here for the last four years so Ive gained a lot of experience over that time. You know people have been on pole in their first season. I think it is more of an achievement for the whole team really. Were still a young team and it is an impressive goal.