Post-qualifying press conference - Spain 08 May 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 15.022s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), 1m 15.639s; 3rd Takuma Sato (BAR), 1m 15.809s.
Q: Michael, that is your fourth pole in five races, but it looked pretty difficult. You were in P12 after that first session this morning.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yes, surprisingly far back. I saw how every time we dropped one position and I was a little bit worried because the circuit obviously improved a hell of a lot and I really wanted to start at the right end, and being where I started wasnt really the best, it was a compromise. And finishing where we did finish was really fantastic, because the circuit really gave a lot of improvement in comparison to the first time Id been out.
Q: Well, Jenson was on a quick lap and went off at turn nine just before you went out. Did that change your thinking in any way on your approach to the lap?
MS: Put it this way, I knew that I had put in a very good first and second sector and that meant that I was able to just be safe in the last sector and not overdo anything. Its very easy to make a mistake, especially into turn ten. But I dont think it did cost a lot and I just had a very nice and perfect lap.
Q: Well, they say this is a very technical circuit, a lot of testing is done here over the winter, and yet the Ferrari package still looks brilliant. Different from the other circuits, but still right there
MS: A bit surprising honestly, because we saw and followed the testing of BAR and we were very impressed by their pace obviously we wont find out what Jenson could have done, but all weekend they were very strong so to be where we are and to be that much up front (ahead of) those guys is a bit of a surprise, but well happily take it.
Q: Juan Pablo, it is good to see a BMW Williams on the front row of the grid for the first time this year.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah, I think its pretty good. I was a little bit surprised by Michaels lap. I was expecting to have a really nice balance after first qualifying, but it just had way too much oversteer and I lost quite a bit of time with that. But no, Im very pleased, I have gotta say. You know, you always want more, nobody really gets a perfect car, but I think weve got a good race car and we will see what happens really. Its a long day tomorrow, this track is pretty hard on the car, on the tyres and everything so we will see how it goes.
Q: Cant help but notice that youre next to your friend from Imola, Michael, on that long run down to the first corner and its a tight first corner here too.
JPM: Yeah. Well have to wait and see what happens when we get there, dont you think?
Q: Takuma, fantastic to see you here. The teams run continues but can you put into your own words what it means to qualify third here today in Barcelona?
Takuma SATO: It means a lot today to me and the team. Obviously I would like to say a big thanks to them, to the team and the people who are supporting us. And from a personal point of view, to get a grid like this really makes me happy. Obviously I had a really successful free practice this morning. We knew we were going to be really strong in qualifying but saying that, yesterday I had a little bit of difficulty in the programme but I just got past that and its really nice to be here.
Q: Youve been quick here in testing and its one thing to do it in un-timed practice but quite another to do it under pressure in qualifying. What was it like just before you went out? Jenson had made that mistake, how did you feel?
TS: That corner is a fast corner and also the wind was getting up so its difficult. We knew that it was going to be a little bit twitchy there but I had a nice balance through there and I didnt worry too much about it. I just concentrated on my lap and obviously was very happy at the end.
Q: Michael, what are your thoughts on that run down to the first corner and Juan Pablo? Does that incident at Imola carry through now?
MS: Not to me. We had an interesting fight at Imola and we will find out whether we have one again tomorrow but its part of racing, to have a battle, and to have a tight business. Ive no problems with that, to have another one.
Q: Michael, you are obviously delighted to be on pole position but it was by a huge margin. Were you expecting that?
MS: I guess we will not find out what it would have been had Jenson got a good lap in. The margin maybe would have been less, but we got a very good run in. I was a little bit surprised seeing the sectors and everything. The circuit was very different in the first qualifying compared to this morning so I was very disappointed, honestly, then it all seemed to come back with cleaning up the circuit.
Q: How difficult has it been to set up the car during the last couple of days?
MS: It has been a little bit difficult because the wind direction has changed various times but it was easier probably compared to last year. Last year we were struggling a lot more with our car to get it right.
Q: How much of a threat did you feel BAR were and what influence has that had on your strategy?
MS: The threat from BAR was very high because we had seen their testing times, we have seen all weekend how competitive they were, so we were warned very much. I dont think it had a huge effect on our strategy, because there is only so much you do with the strategy, and we sort of looked on our side what was best for us and tried to deal with that in view of those guys.
Q: I know you dont necessarily look at your record at a circuit but it is phenomenal at this track. Is it a track you actually like?
MS: It is a track I like, a lot of high-speed corners, and I think you really should complement the circuit in terms of the safety improvements they have done at turn ten. Otherwise, it is a circuit where I have been running since I have been in Formula One, which ultimately makes, maybe, the record look better than at some circuits where I havent been so often.
Q: Just going to turn 10, is that going to have more of an influence on the race itself, do you think? Is there going to be more overtaking there?
MS: It could be, because it is very easy to put maybe someone under pressure and drive him into a mistake and if you do a mistake you run wide, you lose a lot of time, so there could be some interesting overtaking manoeuvres tomorrow.
Q: Juan Pablo, are you surprised to be on the front row or not?
JPM: On the basis of yesterday, yes. Yesterday was really, really, really bad. It was very hard to drive the car. But today, in the morning, we did some changes and we were pretty confident the changes were going to be competitive and straight away the car was good so, yeah, very pleased, very pleased. We will see what happens tomorrow, but, you know, we came around by quite a long way and its nice.
Q: You were talking about oversteer just now, was that in the first run or
JPM: No, in the second one, everywhere really, it was always limited by the rear and it is better than understeer around here. But it would be nicer to have a balanced car.
Q: Could you have hoped for more if it had been the same sort of set-up?
JPM: Well, I am sure Michael could have worked a little bit better on the car and gone quicker, you know, you can always go quicker. I probably would have been a bit closer but it doesnt matter, I am pretty pleased.
Q: Did you change the car between the two runs?
JPM: No, no. Not really.
Q: So it wasnt anything you did to it?
JPM: No, no, I think it was more, from yesterday to today, you know, the track changed a little bit, I had a little bit of oversteer in the first one and I had more in the second one.
Q: So how do you feel about the race itself?
JPM: I think we are pretty good. We will see how we compare against the Bridgestone runners but I think within the Michelin runners we are very, very good.
Q: Takuma-san, your best position in your Grand Prix career by two positions and it is the best qualifying position by a Japanese driver ever. So, you are pretty pleased?
TS: Yeah, I am very pleased where we are today. Basically this is a circuit where we tested most of the time over the winter and we knew we could go really strong here. It was a little bit of a difficult day for me yesterday, I had done only four timed laps due to the programme, but today, especially in the morning session, we seemed to be very strong. We wanted to make sure we didnt get any more bad luck and it seems to be in the end, with the result, is very good. I am very pleased with myself.
Q: You just did a one minute 14 this morning and yet in the first qualifying session you did a one minute 16. What happened between the two?
TS: Obviously we need to look at the circuit conditions and we can see that it was a lot warmer and the wind picked up a little. Historically the Barcelona circuit, on the test days, has been very quick in the morning and in the afternoon you lose some grip. But generally we have a very strong and balanced car and we didnt worry too much about the times at that time.
Q: Now, the best race finish for a Japanese driver is Aguri Suzukis third in the Japanese Grand Prix
TS: Yes, certainly this is a target. Not only for that, but from a personal point of view and a teams point of view, if you qualify third you expect a podium finish and that is really hard, I would imagine, because I have never done that. But I will try my best.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Matthias Brunner Motosport Aktuell) Michael, you said the track changed quite a bit from free practice this morning to the first qualifying session - in what respect?
MS: I think a bit of everything, honestly. Wind and temperature but mainly as well the grid from, probably the series that runs between us, put some dust on the circuit I guess.
Q: (Benni Casadei Lucchi Il Giornale) Question for Michael and Juan Pablo, what do you expect from each other tomorrow, starting from the first corner?
JPM: Some racing, perhaps, hopefully.
Q: (Ronald van Dam Formule 1) Juan Pablo, you spoke to Charlie Whiting, can you tell us a little bit more about the conversation, what he said about Imola and to clarify
JPM: No, nothing, we were just talking to see if we could go to dinner or something.
Q: (Ronald van Dam Formule 1) Oh, didnt look like it. So, you have no comment on it?