Post-race press conference - Spain 09 May 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 2nd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari); 3rd Jarno Trulli (Renault).
Q: Michael, a great win, but what an interesting start, what an interesting first few laps
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, very interesting. I thought I had a good start, I watched in my mirrors and suddenly I saw this blue Jarno Trulli flying on. At that moment, I still had the option to close the door, but I thought that as he was coming along with much more speed, it would not be very fair, so I just left the door open and let him do what he was obviously doing superbly and hoping that our car would allow us to get by somehow. He was close a couple of times down the straight, due to the heavy headwind I got a very good tow, but he was never really close enough to go for an overtaking manoeuvre so I really had to wait for our strategy to work which it did superbly well.
Q: Were you concerned when you were behind Jarno that perhaps you were losing time to other opposition, or were you about on the pace you wanted to run at that point?
MS: No, certainly we were a bit slower than we could have run, as you saw afterwards with the gap we were able to open up, but the concern was obviously where would I end up after the pit stops happened, and who had how much fuel on board, but actually as almost everybody was on a rather short first stint, it didnt really matter that much.
Q: Then you set fastest lap, and then it sounded as if your engine lost its edge? Was that perhaps an exhaust problem?
MS: Yeah indeed it was and unfortunately it happened very early. The team noticed, I think, after the first pit stop, in the second stint it happened, and Ross came on the radio and said theres not very much we can do, we can just hope it will last and he wasnt very optimistic while he was saying that and knowing what an exhaust failure usually means, I wasnt very optimistic, so I just did what I was able to do in preserving it as much as possible, and we drove it home and thats a magnificent job the team has been doing in terms of reliability, and even having such a problem, the car still makes it home to the finish and thats exceptional, really exceptional. These guys, they are just so wonderful.
Q: Did you actually reduce your revs?
MS: I obviously preserved (the engine) as much as I could, but there is only a certain amount you can do, honestly.
Q: Rubens, a great team performance; three pit stops, or two pit stops in your case, and still a Ferrari one-two. How was it from your point of view?
Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think I had a great race. It was difficult at the start, with a lot of cars running here and there but obviously I kept away from the problems and I kept a good pace behind the others because I had such a heavy fuel load. Now everybody can see yesterday they were saying how much more were you behind Michael but I had a good qualifying lap with that amount of fuel really. It was a good strategy. You know, to beat Michael today my only chance was if Jarno kept him behind, for a stop longer. That was my only hope. Apart from that, it was a great race, the car was working well, Bridgestone has done a phenomenal job, because our tyres were really doing a fantastic job.
Q: Jarno, lets talk about that start because it was just fantastic.
Jarno TRULLI: Let me apologise for my voice, it is very low. I had a very good start, it was right on the limit of a jump start, but it worked out very well. I was doing my pace at the beginning, quite good. The car was reacting well and I was keeping Michael behind me. He only took me when we pitted, because he was quicker than me, as simple as that. I was pushing all the way through the race. Just after the last pit stop I was controlling my teammate. It was a pretty good race. Im pleased for me, and Im pleased for my team, my mechanics, the Renault team, but most of all I am pleased because I can dedicate this race to a friend of mine, Dino, who Im sure is watching me on TV, because he has to fight a very good battle, a very strong battle, we will battle together, and I will bring him my trophy.
Q: When you say it was perhaps almost a jump start, what do you mean by that? Do you mean you were anticipating the lights going out and you took a bit of a gamble or was the car creeping, from your point of view?
JT: It was actually quite a gamble, because we sat there for longer than normal and I was reacting fortunately I reacted the right time and this gave me the chance to jump into first position by the end of the first corner.
Q: Michael, it appears that we go to different venues and the opposition changes. Is that a pattern do you think will continue?
MS: Honestly, Im a bit surprised by that because I knew that the Renault would be very fast in race pace but so, I thought, would BAR, so I dont know exactly what happened to those guys. But Renault was obviously very strong, and its no surprise they are strong, because theyve been strong all year long and they were one of the main contenders right from the beginning of the championship. So theyre no real surprise for me.
Q: This is your 75th victory in your 200th Grand Prix. What does that mean to you?
MS: What means a lot is that it is 200, its 75, I mean, a lot of numbers come together in a row. It is obviously a lot of nice numbers that come together at one weekend, which I am proud of, but on the other side now we look forward to the next one. That is the way our business is and very much. I am pretty exhausted because of the trouble we had and really bringing it home, you should really do nothing, you just have to pray it works out.
Q: Even though you did have that problem you were pushing all the way to the end, the two of you were lapping down in the one minute 18s, you were the only two in the one minute 18s, all the way to the end of the race.
MS: Yes, unfortunately I couldnt really slow down that much. There was sort of a right window where I should have driven and I couldnt really slow down any more because it would have actually hurt the situation more rather than the other way around.
Q: Is it something you have ever discussed with the engineers, is it something you can prepare for?
MS: No, it is just something you develop when you have the problem. We dont expect those problems so we dont really prepare for them.
Q: Has it ever happened before?
MS: Actually here, in 1996, I had a similar no, hang on, it wasnt an exhaust, it was an electronic problem.
Q: What about the start? You said you were looking forward to the race down to the first corner but it wasnt quite the race you were expecting.
MS: Yeah, what a shame. Obviously Jarno made an impressive start, not much I could do about that one, there wasnt much of a battle. I was trying, as he was inside, to maybe creep back and try what Rubens did with me last year and outbrake me on the outside, but Jarno was pushing very hard into the first corner and didnt give me a chance.
Q: When he came in, when you were behind him, you must have been hoping he would come in.
MS: Well, I think it would have worked out either way. I just needed one lap earlier, one lap later than him, to be honest, because I was feeling I could go quicker and when he went in obviously I was able to do so, to jump him. I think the other way around as well, with new tyres, I could have gone a bit quicker because I think my quickest time was actually the one I did on the out-lap on new tyres, so I think it could have worked either way, but I am happy it did work.
Q: Rubens, what was the thinking behind the two-stop rather than three-stop strategy?
RB: To get the optimum strategy for both drivers was quite difficult because at the end of the day BAR was quite quick all the time, so both drivers were going to fight for pole position, one would get it and Michael was a little bit quicker throughout the weekend, so for me it was a bit more towards getting out of the traffic. I was so upset with the race in Imola, just sitting there doing nothing and our car was good all the time and I couldnt do anything. So thinking that, okay, I could have tried to have a go on pole. I had the two options, I chose the other one and it worked nicely.
Q: You must have been really happy when it all came together.
RB: Yeah, because I kept it free of problems on the first lap and it was nice I could keep the pace with everyone. My chances were looking good because Michael wasnt first and I think he could have opened a bigger gap and then everything was looking okay. After my first pit stop the car handled a little bit differently because the car was very heavy and I couldnt push all the time and I was losing to him especially. Apart from that it was just a choice of two stops, so obviously he would have been quicker all the time because he was carrying less fuel and so I had to play a little bit. But altogether it was a good qualifying lap yesterday and just a good race.
Q: Jarno, what does this podium mean to you?
JT: It means a lot for me, for the Renault team, for my mechanics, my engineer, because we have been working really hard and we have been close many times to this podium but maybe one mistake from me, a little bit of misfortune, really took this podium away. So I am pleased to be here today and I hope it is not going to be the first and the last time I am up here. I hope to visit the podium again. But this podium means a lot because I have a friend at home that is fighting a big battle and I want to dedicate this podium to him.
Q: How hard was Michael pushing you after the start?
JT: To be honest, I just was not watching the mirrors. I was just keeping my concentration, pushing as hard as possible, I was watching the mirrors just to see that we were both pulling away but I wasnt caring about him. He actually got me just after the pit stop after he was quicker and after that I was just concentrating on doing my best job and just after the last pit stop I was looking out for my team-mate and he was closing but I was quite comfortable judging his pace and at the end we finished together which is good for me and good for the team.
Q: He had an awful lot of Spaniards pushing him at the end, you know.
JT: I know, but I was kind of playing with him and it was kind of nice, I think, to come across the line together.
Q: What about that start, it was fantastic.
JT: It was fantastic, right at the limit, to be honest, the limit of a jump start. It was one of the starts you probably have once in your life and that was today. My reaction time wasnt due to the green light, it was just I released the clutch and at the same time the green light came on, so I was very lucky.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Richard Williams The Guardian) Michael, you said Ross told you about the problem after the first stop. Had you sensed anything yourself and after he told you could you feel any change in the behaviour of the car?
MS: No, this time the team heard the problem earlier than me. They asked me whether I felt anything and I didnt at that time but then it developed even worse and it was obvious to me.
Q: Apart from reducing the revs, was there anything else you had to do?
MS: Not very much, just try to drive in a way that was more sensible for the situation.
Q: So the exhaustion was mental rather than physical?
MS: Yeah, sure, because if you dont you push in a way and you fight and you sort of dont expect to finish and you expect to stop any moment and it finally works so it is quite mixed emotions going on.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti Corriere dello Sport) Rubens, Sauber were strong by using a two-stop strategy. Are there other circuits where this strategy can work?
RB: Well, the strategy itself was slower than three stops. But it was just a fact that you have to gamble a bit. Everyone is going so much for a qualifying time and so I was lucky but it was nice that even though I had a lot of fuel I qualified in the top five. So there could be more races that are going to go this way. Obviously, when you see someone doing it and succeeding you open some doors but whether it is something that will happen sooner or later I have no idea.
Q: (Staffan Heimerson Aftonbladet) Michael, Nigel Mansell had five victories in a row in 1992 but coming up to the sixth he didnt take it. Do you get nightmares about that?
MS: No, not really.
Q: But you are looking forward to having six in a row?
MS: You know, I can only say again: I dont drive for those statistics. If they do happen they make me proud but it is not what makes me going. The next race is Monte Carlo, a very prestigious race and, just for that, as it is a driver challenge this circuit, it would obviously be ideal to win and I very much wish and want to win. If it happens we will find out. Racing is unpredictable.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi Tuttosport)Jarno, the next race, in Monte Carlo, at the moment you have a good car. What are your feelings about it?
JT: Well, obviously we are looking forward to Monte Carlo because we have seen, we hope, that we can be good there. It should suit our car even if every year it is a different Grand Prix. Every Grand Prix is a different Grand Prix, a different history, so the only thing we can do is just to prepare for the race, be very hopeful and confident and do our best. I like the circuit and I have always done very well. I am still looking for the first victory, the first pole position and it might happen there.
Q: (Richard Williams) Michael, a long time ago Ferraris world champion Alberto Ascari won nine races in a row. Is that a record you would like to beat and do you think you can beat it this season?
MS: You know, it doesnt make much sense for me to talk about those things. It is not anything, as I said before, that is important to me.