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Post-qualifying press conference - Europe 29 May 2004

(L to R): Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR, second; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari pole; Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault, third, in the post qualifying FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Qualifying, 29 May 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 28.351s; 2nd Takuma Sato (BAR), 1m 28.986s; 3rd Jarno Trulli (Renault), 1m 29.135s.

Q: Michael, that was a great lap. I guess one of the up sides from your Monaco weekend that you did not have to go out first in pre-qualifying for a change.
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Indeed. It does help. Being the cleaner of the circuit… in some circuits it’s more extreme than in others, but it does help to position yourself for the last run being the last couple of cars out and it helped today.

Q: Tell us, what was it like recovering from that Monaco Grand Prix coming into what is effectively your home Grand Prix? I guess also, getting back into a racing car, five days after Monaco, wasn’t a bad thing either.
MS:
That’s true, to have just a couple of days available and be back in the racing business rather than testing and just to get back into the rhythm, forget about what has happened before - can’t change it anyway - and honestly, by Sunday night, after a couple of drinks with some of my driver mates, it was pretty easy going.

Q: Taku, that was a great performance, just a little bit slower than you were in pre-qualifying but what a great lap that was too.
Takuma SATO:
Sure. Luckily the track conditions stayed very similar to what they were in first qualifying and I’m so delighted to be here. After my third place in Barcelona, which was my best grid position, I really wanted to be on the front row of the grid and I’m totally happy today.

Q: You were alongside Michael at the start at Monaco, we all saw that, and now here you are alongside him again.
TS:
Yeah, to be honest, this year both Jenson and I are quite up on the grid and the team is doing a fantastic job. Unfortunately at Monaco I had to stop quite early in the race, I couldn’t really enjoy the race with competitors, but today I think we achieved what we wanted and tomorrow I will be really looking forward to going side-by-side with a really good competitor.

Q: Jarno, I guess one of the downsides of winning Monaco is all that speech-making and talking to journalists afterwards. You’ve lost your voice and, of course, you had that pre-qualifying, having to go out first. But you made a great recovery lap in qualifying.
Jarno TRULLI:
Thank you. It’s so difficult today for me to express my happiness because I’ve lost my voice. I would just like to say that I couldn’t believe that I’m third, and I especially want to thank my mechanics because they have done a great job. This morning I had a problem and they made the car OK for qualifying so I’m so happy.

Q: Michael, you’ve been in racing a long time but talk a little bit about the thrill of racing in front of your home crowd here at the Nuerburgring?
MS:
It’s always something special, you never get used to that because it’s the extra motivation you get from the enthusiasm you see in the grandstands. It’s a race I really look forward to, a little bit specially because of what happened in Monaco, to come back and hopefully, if we can, win the race here.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Michael, what a margin – more than 0.6s!
MS:
Yes, it’s true. I’m sort of surprised, myself, a little bit, especially if you have seen the lap times that were done this morning by Jenson. I was expecting him to be much closer to this. Obviously, Takuma did a good lap but I just did a perfect lap. It’s not a real surprise, honestly, because I expected us to be very strong here, so we are. It’s just that some competitors seem to have lost something compared to where they have been.

Q: A lot of people were complaining about balance problems yesterday. How well balanced is the Ferrari?
MS:
You never have the ideal balance, put it this way. It’s reasonably bumpy in certain areas, so you always have to complain about something, but I have been able to do reasonably consistent lap times and I probably can’t complain about the balance too much.

Q: Yesterday you lost some time in the afternoon when you were intending to make your tyre choice, so how well prepared are you? Ross called the tyre choice ‘educated guess work’ so have you chosen the one you had already used or have you chosen the one that you haven’t used.
MS:
You know, Ross is very educated, so he took the right decision.

Q: So you feel, obviously, pretty happy with the tyre choice?
MS:
Yeah, we looked at everything together last night and to me it was pretty straightforward.

Q: It is pretty interesting non-Nuerburgring weather in many ways, is it what you were expecting, this sort of weather?
MS:
It was expected, this weather, to happen after the forecast we got but for Nuerburgring sometimes you can have different surprises. So, let’s enjoy for us, for the spectators, for everyone, such nice weather for the weekend.

Q: Takuma-San, the first front row of the grid for a Japanese driver. That must make you very proud?
TS:
Absolutely delighted. I am so happy today and obviously the team has done a really fantastic job, we chose the tyre carefully and we chose really well, so I am very satisfied with my lap today.

Q: Tell us about it. Were there any little mistakes, do you think you could have gone quicker?
TS:
Not really. People are always so demanding in this business and they want you to be quicker usually. But I think what we have done since Friday… I didn’t have a great start to the free practice but we gradually came up and up and finally, just pre- qualifying, we found a really nice balance and luckily the weather and the track conditions stayed very, very similar. Obviously, Michael’s lap was stunning but it really didn’t affect me, I just really wanted to get my business done and today is the day. So I am really happy.

Q: So, are you going to make a Monaco start tomorrow or just slightly slower?
TS:
I mean, I don’t know. Funnily enough, this year I have never started from the off side, if you like, I have always been like third and fifth and whatever, so it will be very interesting, obviously, to start from second. Obviously the front row is one of my dreams so I can’t wait, I am really excited.

Q: Jarno, we are hoping that maybe you need your voice for when you come and see us tomorrow so we will just ask, very briefly, for one comment about the lap.
JT:
Thank you for the optimism! I just want to have a few words to thank my mechanics because this morning I had so many problems on the car that at one stage it was looking like I couldn’t do the qualifying, especially the first one. But they put everything together and I managed to do quite a good qualifying because I was the first on the track and it was very slippery. The second one, everything was more together, the grip level was better, and I did a very good lap. So I am so delighted to be here because it was so unexpected.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ronal Van Dam – Formule 1) Takuma and Michael, can you give us a little comment on the new qualifying system that seems to be put forward from Silverstone?
MS:
I sort of avoid to talk about things that may be in place, so I am not sure yet it is confirmed 100 percent.
TS: Like Michael said, there is nothing confirmed yet. Obviously I am just getting used to the current format, so, to me it doesn’t matter if it is going to be different or not. You have to be flat-out to be first anyway.

Q: (Livio Orricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Jarno, what was the problem with the car this morning?
JT:
I had a hydraulic problem.

Q: (Hans Van Der Klis – Race Report) Michael, did you get all the work done after yesterday? Did you have the opportunity to do a lot of work this morning?
MS:
Well, we picked up what was important. Obviously the tyre choice had to be made yesterday, there was nothing to be done today for it, so that was the only thing we were basically missing yesterday.

Q: (Marco Evangelisti – Corriere dello Sport) Michael, tomorrow you will be in the middle of two of the best starters of the championship. Do you have any concerns for that?
MS:
Honestly, if you take away Monaco we have been, for most of the rest of the season and races, we have been pretty good at the start so I believe being on the right side of the grid and so on, I should be able to do a good start.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, are you satisfied with the performance of your tyres on the long distance?
MS:
Pretty much, yeah. We will find out tomorrow honestly.