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Press conference with Michael Schumacher 18 Jun 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Indianapolis, USA, 17 June 2004

The champion on Indy, Ralf and the season so far

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher, a double Grand Prix winner at Indianapolis, spoke to the press ahead of this weekend’s race at the famous American venue. His comments in full...

Q: Michael, back at the US Grand Prix, is this circuit special for you?
Michael Schumacher:
It is. It has been last year, definitely. Obviously I look forward to have another special one this year. The emotion of the fans was great, the reception, the show we did on the race was very good.

Q: You seem to be relaxed here in North America, why is that?
MS:
Maybe it is because I am. It’s not a reason for North America, in general I am relaxed.

Q: The fact that the race is being run in summertime, do you think perhaps it will make it closer like last year due to the hotter temperatures?
MS:
Well, right now it’s raining, anyway, and if it keeps on raining we’ll have to find out what that means. It’s a good question, we’ll have to find out. We haven’t been running in very hot conditions. It’s a question mark whether it’s going to be very hot because I’ve heard it’s supposed to turn cooler over the weekend now.

Q: Have you spoken to Ralf since Montreal? Do you know how he’s handling that?
MS:
It’s obviously a big disappointment for him. His season wasn’t going very well. He had been a little disappointed thinking he had a chance to win the race, and becoming second, although it was a good result for him. And then even being taken away then. It sort of fits for the season he has had so far. He did his effort, and there is nothing he can do beyond that.

Q: Do you feel almost invincible this year?
MS:
No. No, I don’t feel that way. I feel pretty normal. I just do what I can.

Q: Do you feel a certain degree of anonymity across the United States? Is that why you feel relaxed here?
MS:
I’m relaxed as well in Europe, though it is interesting and nice to be moving along and not be recognized.

Q: Is it true you went to Texas Motor Speedway stood in line (at a Richard
Petty Driving Experience ride, but he had to leave after standing in line for an hour) two years ago, and nobody even recognized you?
MS:
Yup, that is true.

Q: Did you find it very odd?
MS:
I found it very nice.

Q: What is it you feel you do that has allowed you to achieve what you have?
MS:
At the end of the day, I just move a bit quicker around in circles. But, I just have a good year, for whatever reason. That doesn’t explain the last year, which was sort of more difficult than I had other years and sort of coming back more to what I used to be.

Q: As Jenson Button waits to win his first Grand Prix do you remember what it was like to have that frustration as that first win continued to elude you?
MS:
I think where he is, with the possibilities he has, he is just looking forward to the moment when it will happen. Racing is like sport, you can never predict when it will happen. I believe is very motivated rather due to the fact he hasn’t done it yet.

Q: After winning six world titles are there any other worlds you want to conquer?
MS:
Just keep enjoying, honestly. Just keep enjoying, that’s the main thing.

Q: So far, with the one-lap Michelin advantage (in qualifying), you’ve had a margin to do a short stint first or do a two-stop race while everybody’s on low fuel. Are you concerned that if McLaren and Williams might progress with qualifying that you could be qualifying 10th or 11th?
MS:
We’ve done eight races (this year). If you take all the eight races, there was maybe two Grand Prixs where we might have had slight disadvantage in qualifying for the fact you were mentioning, and for the others we were probably quite dominant. So I don’t think we need to be too much concerned.

Q: On these runs in qualifying, do you feel you can get the Bridgestones to work?
MS:
The Bridgestones will work in the race anyway, so when it doesn’t work in qualifying we’ll hopefully make it work in the race.

Q: The current point system doesn’t seem to reward the winner, do you feel the points should reflect winning like they used to?
MS:
I think ‘yes,’ the others think ‘no.’

Q: What should be done?
MS:
As you said, have another point system.

Q: Last year’s USGP was a very important race (for the championship), what do you remember of that weekend?
MS:
Having a very pessimistic feeling and coming home with much more than I anticipated.

Q: This morning, Ross Brawn said you are more enthusiastic this year. Why is that?
MS:
I don’t know. The matter of fact is that straight from starting with the testing I was on the pace, everything was going well, and I felt well. Last year, for whatever reason, here and there, there was a problem with the car. I couldn’t run, and it was all a little more difficult. Sometimes you have those moments where things are difficult, and now they’re back to what it used to be. More normal, and everything goes my way.

Q: In the United States, Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) is such a special place.
How does it rank with you, coming over here?
MS:
The unfortunate thing is we obviously don’t race the real
Indianapolis. We have our own circuit, which is a circuit done within the existing one, so it’s sort of compromised, as it ended up with. For us, Formula One races, you sort of always talk about Spa, Suzuka, those sort of circuits. For the cars we have, this is the ultimate challenge. Indianapolis is a nice Grand Prix, a lot of historic background. It’s great for us to be here. It’s not the challenge of the other two I explained.

Q: The success this season the success must be satisfied because at the end of last year people were writing that Ferrari seemed to be slipping?
MS:
We didn’t anticipate to win as many races as we have. We go back to January testing, we were very pessimistic on this season. We thought it was going to be a very, very tough one; it’s not going to be the way it has gone. So we’re obviously very happy.

Q: Do you attribute that to Bridgestone?
MS:
You can’t put it down just to the tire. We have done a beautiful car, which at presentation everybody felt it was not really a big obvious step. It just looked sort of similar to the old one, but on circuit it performed very well. And the tires Bridgestone has made did theirs (well), so both together are responsible for the success.

Q: Would you like to compete in the Indy 500 one year?
MS:
No.

Q: We seem to be going to longer and longer Formula One calendars. What is your feeling on that?
MS:
That’s just one race more than I’m used to, honestly. No problem at all. More races, fewer testing.

Q: Not even 20 races, too much?
MS:
As long as we have less testing, no problem.