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Post-qualifying press conference - Monaco 22 May 2004

The FIA Press Conference: Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams, second on the road but twelfth on the grid as he is having his engine changed for the race; Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault, pole for the first time; Jenson Button (GBR) BAR, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte Carlo, 22 May 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Jarno Trulli (Renault), 1m 13.985s; 2nd Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1m 14.345s; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1m 14.396s.

Q: What are your thoughts on your first ever pole which you’ve claimed here at Monaco?
Jarno TRULLI:
Well, I’m pretty impressed about my lap time because I couldn’t believe I went under 1m 14s and I must say that the tyres worked pretty well. But this morning I was suffering a little bit of understeer and we cured it, then I put in a very impressive lap, so I’m so pleased to be on pole, which I’ve been chasing for such a long time, here in Monaco. I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a tough race, but I’ve got a little satisfaction today.

Q: You love this place. You’ve been quick here right from the start of your career and you’ve been on the front row here before.
JT:
The only thing I’ve missed here has been victory back in 1996 when I was racing in Formula Three from pole and then I lost it during the race because I had a problem. But I’ve always been very competitive. I must also praise the job that my mechanics and engineers and the whole Renault team has done during the last few weeks because they are trying to give us a better car with better handling and this is definitely what you need in Monaco.

Q: As you say, you were the only guy to get under the 1m 14s barrier and you were very, very quick on sectors two and three of the lap. Talk us through that lap a little bit.
JT:
Let’s say that I knew that we were going to be very close to each other so I had to take a lot of risks. I worked it up really well. I knew that my worst sector was the first one so I got it right on the first one and just flew in the second and the third, for whatever reason, I don’t know why. I just flew in the third one and there’s nothing special there. I’m just very quick, whatever I do, I’m two or three tenths quicker than anyone else, so I just hope that I can keep this pace in the race tomorrow.

Q: Ralf, congratulations to you but you’re starting ten positions further back due to that problem on Thursday. It’s a bitter-sweet day for you.
Ralf SCHUMACHER:
Well, definitely. We made the best of the car. The car’s handling as expected or even better I would say. I think it would definitely have been competitive for tomorrow. Certainly from where we have to start it’s going to be a bit difficult, but never mind. Sometimes I make mistakes as I have done many times before, and this time it was the engine which was the weak part. I don’t really care, as long as we try and keep it up. It definitely looks better than it did in Barcelona so it’s going in the right direction.

Q: Can you confirm that you will definitely start ten back, or would you perhaps contemplate the back of the grid here given the congestion at the first corner?
RS:
No, no. We’ll start where we are.

Q: Jenson, on the front row for Monaco, you must be pleased with that.
Jenson Button:
Yeah, very pleased. It’s obviously very disappointing for Ralf and both of these guys have been my team-mates so I know how good they are round here, so I’m very pleased to be where I am.


Q: Talk us through your lap – a shade off, perhaps, in sector two?
JB:
Yeah, I’ve been struggling there all day, really. I‘ve had a lot of understeer in the car and…

Q: If I can just ask there, what does sector two really mean when you say understeer? Which corners are you referring to?
JB:
It’s mostly the slow corners on the circuit so you’ve got Mirabeau, Loews, the two right-handers before the tunnel and the exit from the tunnel. And I just had too much understeer. I think we’ve cured most of that, but I think I was losing a little bit of time due to that.

Q: Jarno, Michael Schumacher is fifth, fourth on the grid tomorrow. Do you have any thoughts on that? And perhaps the other two might like to join in as well, it’s an important race for him and he’s not even on the front row here.
JT:
Well, for once he’s not on the front row and for once I am, leading. To be honest, I just look after myself. Obviously it’s a bit disappointing for him to be behind in Monaco, but he’s still a champion, he’s still someone who can make it back for the race and I’m sure he will fight really hard tomorrow. Anyway, I’m just enjoying myself at the moment.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jarno, third in the last race, pole here. What a place to do it, your first ever pole.
JT:
Yeah, it’s the right place to claim my first ever pole position. It’s something that any driver looks for and I’ve been waiting a long time because I’ve been chasing it for a long time. It also came with the right team, because I’m very happy to work with Renault. They’ve done a great job over the last few weeks to improve the car, especially the car’s handling and here in Monaco that’s definitely what you need, so we put everything together, the package, the driver, the team and so now we are leading for today.

Q: So where do you feel you’re really gaining time?
JT:
Well, the whole week I’ve been struggling a little bit in the first sector, competitive in the second one but flying in the third one, and that is where the proposition came to make a good first sector, the second one quicker and the third sector was just flying compared to anyone else.

Q: Now on Wednesday, you told us that your results had gone 7th-5th-4th-3rd and that you’d be happy with second. Would you like to modify that?
JT:
I’ve always said that I’ve been looking for my first pole position; I’ve got it. I’ve always been saying that I’m looking for my first victory, hopefully I will get it.

Q: Now we know that the car is quick, but I understand that since you’ve set that fastest lap, you’ve also proved that Renaults are safe as well. What happened when you were being driven from the pit lane to the TV interviews?
JT:
(Not understanding) I was very surprised by my lap time and how it all came together. It’s obviously a great feeling for me, it’s a great feeling for the team, for my mechanics and my engineers because I’ve been chasing this result for quite a long time. And I don’t know, at the moment I’m enjoying myself and this first pole position and then I will look at tomorrow. I cannot think of anything else at the moment.
(Ralf explains the question). Ah, the accident! Alright. We were laughing because we probably didn’t take enough risks on the track while we were running in our Formula One cars and we took the biggest risk when were driving in a road car. It was something unexpected. We were both surprised when this car was coming towards us. We knew, anyway, that Renault cars are very safe.

Q: Poor old Ralf. Everything seems to have gone reasonably well ever since Thursday morning.
RS:
Yeah. I expected us to be reasonably strong here, stronger than in Barcelona because it’s not such an aero dominated circuit. The team did a great job, putting the package together to enable us to be at least to be on the front row for a second. Obviously, due to some problems I have to leave that position to Jenson but at least it worked out reasonably in qualifying.

Q: And things have gone very well over the last couple of years here for Williams, haven’t they? It has become a bit of a Williams circuit.
RS:
Well, only last year it started to become one, didn’t it? Before that I think we were pretty weak here.

Q: You were still on pole position.
RS:
Yeah, last year I went on pole, I definitely got worse this year but, yeah, it is a circuit where we can perform well on but then Juan obviously being seventh or eighth or whatever, I don’t know, and I am 12th, so it is going to be a bit difficult tomorrow.

Q: What do you think you can do tomorrow, presumably you have already planned out the strategy which perhaps had some effect on the lap time?
RS:
Yeah, well, obviously we have our strategy just in order to hopefully gain some positions in the race in the pits – I mean, overtaking is going to be a bit difficult. My biggest fear was certainly to be stuck behind some slow backmarkers, but I think we’ve made it quite good so let’s wait and see.

Q: Jenson, it did seem that the first sector time was particularly good for you.
JB:
Yeah, I was told that Taku had a problem warming his tyres up in the first sector so I pushed quite hard but I obviously didn’t get them up to temperature and had a lot of understeer, especially in the first sector. But it came to me in those next two sectors so I am, um, pretty happy actually because this morning we were struggling a little bit for pace, so I am pretty happy.

Q: What do you think of Monaco as a whole, as a circuit?
JB:
As a circuit I love it, I really do enjoy driving around here. It is pretty crazy, it is, because it is always twice the speed because of the barriers but it is a great circuit to drive and to push to the limits, it really just gives you something back. It’s great.

Q: If it is any help, in recent times it has been won more times from second on the grid than it has from first.
JB:
Has it? Erm, it would if they weren’t both Renaults. As we all know they are very good off the line so we have gotta wait and see.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Pascal Dro – Auto Plus) Jarno, how can you explain that you made three or four tenths of a second out of the third sector, it was quite magic. You didn’t achieve that kind of thing during the free practices.
JT:
I did. I did exactly the same for each sector. I did it in the morning, it was just a matter of putting everything together and in fact it came out such a good lap because I made slightly better the first sector, second sector was probably the same and the third sector also probably the same. I don’t know why I am so quick there, to be honest, because it was nothing special, it is probably down to the car.

Q: (Pascal Dro) You just mentioned something on the previous interview that we saw on the television about the fact that you started your flying lap in the third sector of the warm-up lap.
JT:
No, no. I said the third sector I did in qualifying was exactly the same sector I did this morning when I did the 1m 14.0s.
RS: He means the warm-up lap on the way to the qualifying.
JT: Oh, really? I didn’t know that, to be honest.

Q: (Byron Young – Speed Sport) Ralf, what do you think of the chances of Michael winning tomorrow?
RS:
Why do you ask me? Ask him, I don’t know. I have no clue what he is doing, what his car is like, obviously not particularly strong, so why should I know. I am with Williams.

Q: (Byron Young) But you know your brother is a fighter and he has won here five times.
RS:
Obviously he is a fighter and he is simply one of the best drivers at the moment, but if the car doesn’t allow him to go fast, he can’t. He can’t fight as much as we want to. Let’s wait and see how it starts. Usually you could say he could make a good position at the start but then he has the two Renaults so it is going to be a bit difficult, isn’t it?

Q: (Alastair Moffitt – PA News) Jarno and Jenson, how important will the first corner be in determining who eventually comes out on top?
JT:
As usual, it will be extremely important, but it doesn’t mean that if you are leading by the first corner then you are going to win the race. We know that Monaco is such a difficult race, anything can happen, it is just a matter of getting out of the first corner without any accident and make the race.
JB: Yeah, I think it is very important and I haven’t just got to look forwards to getting past Jarno, I have got to look behind and keep Fernando behind. But we have proved that Taku and myself have been able to get good starts this year. In Imola it was a pretty good start from the front, so it is going to be interesting.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sports News) For all three of you guys, is this just an exception or do you think your teams are finally closing the gap on Ferrari?
JT:
To be honest, I have been talking about Renault and I have been talking about me but probably we also have to praise the Michelin tyres because maybe we have got some advantage this time over the Bridgestones. Normally, when you are quick it is normally the whole package that works well. Here in Monaco we all seem quick, especially the Michelin runners and we see. Anyway, Ferrari with the Bridgestone tomorrow have still got 78 laps to fight.
RS: This track is purely tyres and mechanical grip dominant, so it is not such a surprise. Ferrari, before they came here, they were saying that they expect Michelin runners to be in front, so I think it is still the best team around at the moment. I think it is pretty much an exception around here. And the thing is, in Monaco you have to have the right car and, just like Jarno, get a perfect lap together and maybe simply Michael didn’t achieve that today.
JB: Obviously, I think the Michelin tyres have worked very well here because it is very difficult to make up that much margin over two weeks. But, if you look at their times in long-distance running, the Ferraris, they seem to be very, very strong, so obviously they are thinking about the strategy very much and we have to see what they do because they still will be a threat.

Q: (Ian Gordon – News of the World) Jenson, can you explain what happened in the crash in the car?
JB:
I actually didn’t have my seatbelt on – bit naughty! I don’t know, the car came around the corner waving a flag and crashed into us. We were going the wrong way around the circuit…

Q: (Tony Dodgins – Tony Dodgins Associates) Jarno, so far this year, with Michael’s race pace, if the two Renaults and Jenson go around at the same pace with him tagged on the back then the chances are he can cut loose again. This time, though, there are two Renaults ahead of him. Will you and Fernando and the team have a chat and adopt a bit of strategy that might create a gap?
JT:
No, I don’t think it is fair, not fair against me or against Fernando. Everyone is racing for victory. We just have to do our best. Maybe, you know, we will see what happens tomorrow. Maybe the Ferraris haven’t got enough pace, you don’t know. Things have changed quite a lot – three Michelins on the front row and the Ferrari is on the back with Bridgestone. Maybe they are not in a good pace. For sure, tomorrow they will be quicker but we feel quite confident for the race, we are not going to play any weird strategy to stop anyone else or to stop the Ferrari. We just want to race for victory with any of our cars.