Post-race press conference - San Marino 25 Apr 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 2nd Jenson Button (BAR); 3rd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams).
Q: An interesting first few laps, today. Tell us about them?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, absolutely. It was mind-blowing what Jenson put up in front. I just told him, I thought it was raining in front of me and it was dry for him. He was just disappearing into nowhere and I was really wondering It took quite a few laps til everything got going and we got up to temperature and we were able to chase. And then his first stint so I was really quick. I saw the lap times, low 1m 21s, and he was pulling away and I thought this is going to be a very very busy and tough afternoon. Luckily, whatever happened, we sort of kept our pace and they dropped off a little bit from their initial pace.
Q: It was a very exciting opening lap, quite a lot of incidents going on there, as you predicted. What was it like from your point of view, going into the chicane, coming out of Tosa?
MS: Well, it was very slippery on my side and I was fighting with Juan. It was a bit difficult to keep him behind me and obviously I wanted to avoid him getting by because I knew I was going to get faster, once the first couple of laps got going, and I wanted to stay in touch with Jenson because that was the crucial point, and we were able to.
Q: It turns out that you qualified with a bit more fuel on board; you stopped two laps later than Jenson at that first stop. Do you think that was critical?
MS: I dont think it is important. I think Jenson put in a very good lap. I didnt and that is the end result. He deserved pole position and I deserved second position.
Q: Jenson, you lead the San Marino Grand Prix, just describe that first of all, those opening laps?
Jenson BUTTON: The first lap was a fantastic feeling. I was really wringing the neck of the car, I wanted to get a good gap on the first lap and it worked. And I was very happy with my pace in the first stint. It was when we got out on new tyres after we refuelled I seemed to struggle a little bit compared to Michael.
Q: Well, you say you struggled compared with Michael, but the difference between you and the rest of the Michelin runners was night and day. How good was the car today? Was it perfect?
JB: No. In a race its very difficult to have a perfect car. It seems windier today and the car was a little bit twitchier than what we expected. It was a little bit tough to drive, but even with those problems, the pace was still very good.
Q: Juan Pablo, lets have that first lap from your point of view?
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Well, you know Michael had a poor start. He was slow out of the first chicane, you know, the first turns two and three. I went to pass, he closed the door on me and I had to back off. Then he did the same out of the next corner and closed the door, so I went for the inside and Im coming out beside him and the next thing I see hes just coming straight at me, hit me and put me in the grass. Its very disappointing to see racing like that but Ill be surprised if he gets away with it. Its up to the FIA really.
Q: Was there any damage to your car, you say there was a contact?
JPM: No, no, no. He just hit me hard enough to put me in the grass. Bit disappointing, but I thought I was hard in there.
Q: And then a race up the hill with your team-mate Ralf Schumacher
JPM: Yeah, you know I came into the track and I saw him and I had to close the door and I closed the door and I had enough momentum just to keep in front of him.
Q: And Jensons pace?
JPM: I couldnt believe the first lap. He was like on rails. He was unbelievable. I knew what pace we could do and we did it. We were a bit surprised by their pace really. Theres nothing we can do, the cars just not quick enough.
Q: Michael, youve heard a little bit about what Juan Pablo said but lets talk about the day from your point of view. Just reflect a little bit on this San Marino Grand Prix, what it means to you, your third straight win here and obviously a great win for Ferrari and an emotional weekend.
MS: Absolutely. More than that, its emotional because Im the ambassador of the San Marino Grand Prix and the State and its a home Grand Prix in the pocket where I was able to really excite all our supporters, the tifosi outside. The emotion thats going on there is really fantastic. Its a dream come true, to come home after a successful first three races and deliver a dream result - with the exception of qualifying - for the final result.
Q: Michael, congratulations. Your were talking about it being very slippery; do you think that was because of last nights rain, and it affected you perhaps more than others?
MS: Ooh. Umm. Maybe in a way. For sure the rain washed off the rubber, the temperature being cool and everything together made it a little bit more slippery and it seems like we needed a little bit more time until our tyres got up to temperature and grip, compared maybe to the competitors tyres.
Q: But obviously your fourth win out of this year has got to be fantastic; it cant get any better can it?
MS: No, certainly not. Except maybe leaving out the mistake of yesterday but you cant always be perfect.
Q: Presumably you were easing up at the end; can you just confirm that?
MS: Yes, certainly. I had quite a gap and I saw Jensons pace, I was informed of that on the radio, so I just drove the pace accordingly and eased up.
Q: Youve heard Juan Pablos comments about the first lap; have you got any reply to that?
Q: Jenson, second place, what was it like, however, being hunted down by Michael?
JB: It was quite strange because I know its very difficult to overtake here so when Michael was behind, I wasnt too worried until I got to the first pit stop where he pitted two laps later and had a huge gap after the first pit stop, which I was actually quite shocked about.
Q: What about the grip, as far as you were concerned in those opening laps?
JB: I found the grip level very low on the first lap, but I had a very good start off the line there, and then I was able to pull away. I was pushing very, very hard, the car was a little bit nervous but I knew that Michael would try and do something on the first lap, so I pulled out a good advantage which definitely helped me.
Q: Then, just about the same time as Takuma expired, you set a 1m 28s lap time suddenly. What happened there?
JB: I must have been one of the first cars past his and I didnt know anything about it so I pretty much stopped because I couldnt see anything and lost six or seven seconds going through the smoke. I was just being very cautious.
Q: General feelings about the second place?
JB: Very happy. I think we all know that the pace of the Ferrari is untouchable in the race but no, a fantastic result for all of us. Going to Barcelona, Im very happy with my year so far and it should be a good race for us.
Q: Juan Pablo, third could you have hoped for better?
JPM: No not really, it wasnt quick enough was it?
Q: But is there some light at the end of the tunnel?
JPM: There has got to be, either this year or next year or whenever. At the moment we dont have anything. The car is not quick enough. In qualifying the car manages to get a good lap but in the race we just we can be quick sometimes but it is just miles off.
Q: Can you say if it is power or handling?
JPM: It is a little bit of everything to be honest. We are down on power and we are down on downforce as well. We are a bit like best of the rest apart from that BAR have now overtook us. We need to find a way to come back a little bit.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport): Juan Pablo yesterday you told us you felt that you were in the race. Was it just or lie? And was the car damaged, was there anything worse in the car after you went on the grass?
JPM: You know if you damage something it was four corners into the race. The car behaved okay. He hit me right on the side, but I dont think he did too much damage. From the times everybody was doing yesterday and our times I thought we were in pretty good pace.
Q: (Jonathan Noble Autosport): For Michael and Juan, when you are running side-by-side and fighting for position round the corner, can you just clarify what you consider acceptable behaviour and what is unacceptable?
JPM: He said he didnt see me. He thought I wasnt there so I dont know, forgot to look maybe.
MS: I saw his attack on the outside at braking, but then going out of the corner for me first of all I did not see him, but second, outside around the corner you usually lose ground so I didnt expect him to be there.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA News): Juan Pablo, in the earlier press conference you said you didnt think Michael would get away with what he did. What do you think will happen and what do you expect will happen?
JPM: You look at Indy for example when I just touched with Rubens. I was on the inside and I went onto the grass to try and avoid the accident and we still touched and I got a drive through and that killed my championship really. If it wasnt for that I could have been world champion last year. He does that and he gets away with it, I think it would be a bit unfair really. I think the rules have got to be for everybody. It doesnt matter if he drives for Ferrari, if he is called Michael Schumacher or anybody.
Q: (Richard Williams The Guardian): Jenson could you see any of the spat going on behind you and were you surprised by the 2.7 seconds you had at the end of the first lap?
JB: I was a little bit surprised at the difference in time, but I didnt have time to look behind and see what was going on really. All I could see was the red car going backwards, which was fantastic and that was my aim.
Q: (Aidan Lewis AP): Can I just have a comment from Michael and the other drivers if possible on the fact that this might be the last Grand Prix at Imola?
MS: From my point of view it would be a shame if it really is, but it wouldnt be the first time we have seen changes happen on Grands Prix coming back into the programme. There is still hope and as long as there is hope I cross my fingers.
JB: I think it would be sad to lose this circuit. It is a great circuit to drive, I think there is a lot of history in it and also the crowds are fantastic here so it would be sad to see it go.
JPM: Im the same really.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA News): Michael, youve described this result as a dream one for you. Have Juan Pablos comments soured this is any way?
MS: Not for me.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA News): To add to that, your first victory here was an unfortunate one with what happened with Ayrton, does this sixth one mean anything to you on the anniversary of his death?
MS: Honestly we come here every year and we think about what happened to Roland (Ratzenberger) and Ayrton. Not because it is 10 years for me doesnt make it any more special or different.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport): Jenson, what do you feel is the weakness point to close the gap with Ferrari? And do you believe the rain of last night could have helped Ferrari?
JB: I just think they are a long way in front of anyone at the moment. The rain might have made a small difference, but if it did it is not a huge difference. Michael was 27 seconds in front of me before he started slowing down. It is a huge gap considering I was leading for the first nine laps of the race. If I knew the reasons why they were so fast we would work on it, but it is very difficult to understand why we are quite a long way off them.
Q: (Tony Dodgins Tony Dodgins and Associates): Juan, sorry to harp on about the incident, but I think you said in the unilaterals youd gone for the inside, but when we pick up the tv pictures you seem to be driving round the outside
JPM: That was afterwards. After the first three corners he had a bad exit and I went for the inside.
Q: Was it Tosa?
JPM: No, before Tosa. Turns one, two, three. I dont know. Im amazed, I actually got in front of him when we were braking (while watching television replays) oh know he didnt see me there (laughter). No chance. Youve got to be either blind or stupid not to see me. But you know it is racing.
Q: (Tony Dodgins Tony Dodgins and Associates): At Tosa though, are you not trying to be a bit optimistic to drive around the outside?
JPM: Ive done it before and it has got quite a lot of grip. I managed to get above my position there and when I was driving out of the corner he just pushed me wide. Ive done it before at the Nurburgring passing him on the outside. You know he had very little grip on the first few corners. I understand he has got to defend his position, but how far do you go to defend your position thats the question. Or how far are you allowed to do so.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA News): Jenson, you are watching the pictures there on tv. Can we just gain a neutral perspective on this?
JB: I missed it. I didnt see that part (laughter). I think I was looking away at that point.
Q: (Ian Parkes PA News): Michael, just a follow-up question to yourself. Who do you see as your main rival in the championship? Youve got a healthy 16-point lead, are you looking at Jenson perhaps to be your biggest rival this season now?
MS: He is fully into it, absolutely.
Q: (Andrea Cremoensi La Gazzetta dello Sport): Juan Pablo, have you seen Ralf (laughter)?
JPM: I did close the door you know. I dont have anything against what I did, but it was because of the first incident. I wasnt going to lose 10 positions. I dont have a problem with that, it is fine by me.
Q: (Matthias Bruenner Motorsport Aktuell): Jenson, bearing in mind how well testing went in Barcelona, do you think you could have a go at Ferrari in Barcelona?
JB: Its difficult. In testing you never know what fuel loads people are running and what testing they are doing so its a difficult one. We have been quick at Barcelona over one lap and the long runs are reasonable as well, but looking at Ferraris pace in every race this year they seem to be very good in race trim. We might be closer but to beat them is a big step forward.
Q: (Olaf Bachmann Koelner Stadt Anzeiger): Juan, can you explain your gesture on the last lap to Michael?
JPM: I just said what happened, what were you thinking. Thats all.
MS: I thought you were congratulating me.
JPM: I never do actually.