Post-race press conference - Britain 11 Jul 2004
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 2nd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren); 3rd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari).
Q: Michael, you have a big smile on your face. A two-stop strategy this time compared to the three of most of your closest opposition.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, obviously I was amazed how the race went. I thought we had a very good strategy for the race but that it would pay out so early, leading the race so early basically after my first stop coming in front ahead of everybody, that was not the plan, honestly. But my car was just going so well in the last laps when I had free track that I was able to close the margin I had on Kimi which he pulled out in his first 11 laps and that was just phenomenal. After that it was just controlling it, lucky obviously with the strategy I had Kimi was behind me and I could control that, it was tight in a couple of areas but not too tight and very interesting obviously.
Q: Of course, what you could not predict was the safety car coming out about 20 laps from the end and then it was gloves off racing to the finish.
MS: Yeah, obviously that sort of took away my comfortable lead I had built up by that stage and I was probably lucky that I had two other drivers between me and Kimi because the warm-up performance of Kimis tyres and my tyres was noticeably different. Had he been directly behind me, thanks to the safety car - who was going very, very slow around, didnt look to put any effort in his drive I had very cold tyres and that didnt really help me for the first couple of laps when Kimi came close. We had a nice little fight for a couple of laps and my tyres came back and I was able to open the lead again.
Q: It was pretty close with both you and Rubens. We have been saying all weekend how good your car has been, particularly on fast corners here. Is that where you had the advantage over Kimi towards the end?
MS: Erm, looking at it Kimi seemed to be very good in the infield, in the last sector, in particular. But saying that obviously we were on very different strategies - he was a lot lighter while he was behind me. It is difficult for me to predict how the situation really was but we obviously had the best package for the whole circuit.
Q: Kimi, what a start! Take us through that start and those early laps.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: It was good. The start was very good, to get the first place, and I just went as quickly as I could and I think after the first lap there was already quite a big gap. I kept pushing all the time but then I was a bit unlucky with the traffic, I got stuck behind the two Minardis after the first pit stop and this cost me way too much time. Every time I came out with new tyres I got stuck behind someone but that is racing and at least we got the second place in the end.
Q: Indeed, your first podium since Suzuka last year. But, from the safety car onwards, you were very close to Michael within a couple of laps of the car going in and then Michael started to pull away again.
KR: Yeah, I think the last set of tyres I had more difficulties with at the rear end than any other set so, like Michael said, I was hoping that I could get past the two lapped cars very quickly so that I could really challenge him with the new tyres. I got close to him but not past him. But for me, the team, Mercedes, for everyone, it is a good result because after a really difficult start to the season we finally got things going the right way and got back on the right track and we got some results. Now it is only the second race for the car so hopefully we can improve it.
Q: Rubens, you maintained your record as the only driver to score points in every race so far this season. There was a lot of racing with Jenson Button there, you got the better of him in the pit stops then you nearly caught Kimi at the end.
Rubens BARRICHELLO: Yeah, I had quite a good race but a tough one. After the start it was quite clear that they had this (tyre) warming up a bit better than us and it was really difficult to follow Kimi for the first three of laps, So we lost a little bit of time and it was difficult to catch him up. I was catching slightly, I opened up on Jenson, but when I came to the first pit stop I went out a little bit heavy in the middle of the traffic and the car wasnt working very well. Thats the part of the race that really cost me more points really and maybe the victory. After all it was quite clear that Michael, on a two-stop, was doing a superb job and he was going to win, so when I saw the safety car then everything was alive again. But unfortunately, again, I had too many problems on the first two laps warming up again and it cost me.
Q: Did you get close enough to Kimi right at the end to have a go at him?
RB: No, I think the pace was to high to try to have a go. I was thinking the public was thinking I could really do it - because of last week at the final moment but I had to be a bit faster to try to do anything. I was faster than him on sector one through Becketts and everything but he was faster through sector three in the infield, so it was difficult to make up.
Q: Michael, what a season this is turning out to be. I know there is still a long way to go but can we just reflect a little bit on your thoughts on this victory, how things are just going so well for you, how good the car is. Actually, this is the first time you have won a Formula One race from fourth on the grid, for what thats worth.
MS: Yeah, it doesnt mean a lot in a way. We obviously sacrificed qualifying for the race strategy, in a way, and it just paid out. It is unbelievable what has happened to me this year, to the team. I think it just pays back for all the hard work everyone has done in the factory. We never have let off. We learned our lesson from last year when maybe we took it a little bit easy at some stage and we came back just at the right time. And because everyone felt the pain of this nobody really wanted to be back in this pain and everyone kept pushing. The high motivation I see every time I go with the test team, those guys work just flat-out all the time and when you see how hungry the guys are it is just fantastic, each one sort of pushes the other one and it is just an on-going thing. I am so proud to be in the team and be able to live in that phase of Ferrari.
Q: Michael, that start of Kimis - when he just disappeared into the distance what were you thinking?
MS: Not much. I knew what strategy I was on so I wasnt so concerned about that.
Q: Then, shortly afterwards when he came into the pits you put in your usual trio of fastest laps, which were phenomenal.
MS: Yeah, I mean, I was stuck behind Jenson, I tried to have a go at him but I was not really close enough in the areas I had an opportunity, so I just had to sit and wait because I knew the strategy I had so there was no need for overdoing anything. Then I had a free circuit and I just used my car and the potential I had and that was obviously working very well.
Q: So, when you were twice caught by Kimi, you werent particularly worried?
MS: No because even had he passed me I knew the pace I had he would have opened a little bit of a gap but not enough to worry us, honestly, with the strategy we had.
Q: And, really, even the safety car worked against only you and helped all the rest of them.
MS: I know, I know. That is the way it is. I was lucky, obviously, to have a couple of cars between me and Kimi that allowed me to get my tyres to work and I was able to keep my position.
Q: How were the tyres today, because I believe you were on the softer option.
MS: Our tyres worked fantastically well, I have to say, with maybe the exception of the opening laps and after the safety car, but we had a very strong performance towards the end of the stint, so you trade one against the other. You rarely have safety cars, you have just one start, but you have many last laps, so I think for the race and for the consistency we were sorted out very well.
Q: Kimi, that 3.5-second lead at the end of the first lap what about that? What were you thinking?
KR: I just tried to do my best and push as hard as I could because I knew that Ferrari might be quicker than us over the race distance so I tried to build as much gap as I could. I did it well, but every time when I came out from the pits I was stuck behind someone so I couldnt use my new tyres, really, to gain more time. Then Michael got in front of me and I was stuck behind him. I tried to pass but I wasnt quick enough.
Q: Did you think you could win when you were right behind him there?
KR: Of course, I was always thinking that, I didnt give up before we finished the race. And in the last part, when we were behind the safety car I was also thinking that if I went past the two cars between us quickly then I would have a good chance because with new tyres I might be able to pass him. But it took too long to get past those two cars so I wasnt able. But in the end second place was good for us.
Q: What have you learned about the MP4-19B this weekend that you can take into, say, Hockenheim?
KR: I guess that it is a quick car and it is reliable but we still need to improve it and I think we are getting some new parts for the next race and hopefully we can go more strongly and maybe we can try for a win. It is a very positive start because it is only the second race that we have taken this car and we can really race with it, so it is very good for the team and for all the people.
Q: Rubens, you were gaining at the end there, did you think you could get second place?
RB: No, to be honest with you, I dont think so. I wasnt quick enough to have a go at him. Obviously, if we had another ten laps and our tyres were always getting better and better I dont know if he would have a problem with his, then, yes, but those two laps were close but not close enough.
Q: It was a really early first stop, lap nine, was that always scheduled?
RB: We had the thinking that I could be on pole and just do nine qualifying laps and really open up a gap just like Michael did at the Nuerburgring. The problem was that first, the qualifying lap yesterday started really well but the pressure in the tyres went a bit too high and I struggled on sector three so therefore I lost time and so Kimi pipped me. But even if I was on pole today, he would have given me a tremendous problem on the first lap because warming up (my tyres) was really a problem today. I dont think we have a problem with that, but today. Because of the weather, we did have a problem so then I struggled. I struggled for three laps, more or less, and then he opened such a gap and I just recouped it a little bit but when I came to the first pit stop, after I did it and I was a bit heavy and I wasnt going anywhere and all of a sudden when I picked up a little bit of speed I was behind that group of six or seven cars which were fighting for position so I lost out a little bit today.
Q: Jenson got ahead of you in the first pit stop and then you got ahead of him in the next one.
RB: I was lucky that I had one more lap than him because that was the only way I could have actually passed him. I dont know if I would have had the chance to pass him on the track. Obviously by myself, when my tyres were old, that was very very quick, so when he went into the pits I could see my fastest sectors and I was really thinking that I could have done it.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) Michael, every now and again you seem to have a bad race: Suzuka, Hungary. Do you plan to have one this year and if so, could you tell us when?
MS: You wish (me) to have one?
Q: (Bob Bull) I hope you dont, but you usually do.
MS: So do I.
Q: (Bob Bull) I guess the answers no to that one.
Q: (Richard Williams The Guardian) Michael, when did you made the decision on the strategy for todays race and what were your reasons for it?
MS: Basically yesterday, when we decided that strategy. We thought it was the best one and we did not get the car sorted out completely until qualifying. We didnt feel so comfortable to be able to go for pole position after seeing the lap times of the competitors around and there were quite a few - so we thought it was better to then swap around and try a different approach.
Q: (Richard Williams) Was fourth on the grid more or less what you were expecting?
MS: It was actually better than I thought. We managed to get in a very nice lap. We finally sorted the car out for qualifying but I didnt know that beforehand because I didnt have a normal qualifying session, lets say, to find out and therefore I just thought maybe to be sixth/seventh, somewhere there, but it worked out better than I thought.
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson and Associates) Rubens, when you are faster than Michael, on those occasions when you are, do you get the first choice if there are two strategies, do you get to chose what you are going to take or are you instructed which one you are going to take?
RB: We have a team that show us many papers and many ways of doing things. Its common sense. We were talking, I was the one that was really sorted out with the set up, especially for the new tyres so everyone thought OK, lets put Rubens to try to be on pole. Michael wasnt so happy with his car and lets try to have a race this way. You know we had a tyre which was really good in terms of wear, so the three stops could have been marginal in terms of if you think two stops was the right way to go. But we knew people were going to go for pole position so with me the team decided to go for two different strategies.
Q: (Mike Doodson Mike Doodson and Associates) If you had the choice again would you do the same strategy?
RB: (Laughs) But if I knew the fuel level of everyone right now then I would probably have changed but if I had to do it all over again and not knowing the details again, I probably would have made the pressures of my tyre differently, and I wouldnt have done it again, yes, no problem.
Q: (Will Buxton - Metro) Michael, it seems every circuit we come to there are different challenges team-wise for Ferrari, and yet you guys always seem to come out on top. Can you give us a bit of an insight into the atmosphere at the team, what motivates you guys and what keeps the team motivated?
MS: Obviously, it is hard work to achieve what we are achieving and to have a car the way we have it. We have suffered last year when it got close and we almost lost the championship and it was a big push to turn it around in our favour. Since that happened it maybe caused some sort of change of attitude, although we always had a good attitude but it can even be better, it can always improve and we saw that. And since that happened, I just see everybody being motivated, when I come back from a race to go to a test, everybody is so happy because they work so hard, they live for racing and the success is their payback. If you see the excitement of these guys it is just phenomenal. Its so unique to live in this area we are living in and obviously everybody wants to keep it as long as possible and to be with it and to do the best to keep it.
Q: (Andrew Frankl - Forza) Michael, we would all like to know, how is Ralf?
MS: He is improving and probably he is improving too quickly because he gets - how do you say? - you cant hold him back enough. Basically, he already wants to sit in the car and you have to tell him all the time to take it easy.
Q: (Michael Schmidt Auto Motor und Sport) In the last four races, three you won with an alternative strategy, is that an indication that the others are catching up?
MS: Definitely. If you look at the beginning of the season, Australia I think we could have taken any strategy and we would have won. Thats not possible any more, simply because the others have picked up. Saying that, it was not expected to be where we were at the beginning of the season. It was far more expected to be in what we are seeing now, and probably even more difficult, because if you saw the winter testing, and I guess if you ask Kimi, he was pretty sure they were going to have an opportunity at some stage and so did many journalists, so we did feel thats going to be the toughest year we are going to have to face and then it turns out the way it does which is obviously thanks to giving it 100 percent from our side and probably not from the other side.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland ) Question to Kimi, could you describe your feelings sitting in the car today and being able to fight for victory for the first time since Japan last year?
KR: Of course it was good, nice feeling, to be back racing for the podium and for the first place, not only just for me, but for the whole team because weve been having a really difficult season and everybody has been working to try to improve that situation and now finally with the new car, the 19B, we are starting to get in the right direction, in the right way, so for sure it was very nice to not just be fighting for one point in seventh or eighth place. So I am much more than happy now, but I would be much more happier to be in first place but we cannot get everything straight away. So we need to still keep working hard and try to improve the package and then hopefully by the end of the season we are in the position where we really can challenge for a win at every race. That what were aiming for.
Q: (Stéphane Barbé LEquipe) Rubens, at the restart, after the safety car, you seemed to be a bit far away from Kimi was it the same problem as Michael, who said you had some problems to warm up your tyres behind the safety car, at the speed he had?
RB: Unfortunately today we did have a little bit of a problem. Im sure that it will raise a lot of questions if we do have the problem for ever, or if we actually always have it. In fact I think everyone suffers from the problem of warming up behind the safety car, but particularly today we did have a small problem, yes, and even though I was trying to do everything I could in terms of heating up the tyres, when Michael started to accelerate out of Priory, turn 15, and then Kimi got going in his car as well, I couldnt follow. The first two cars were already probably a second behind. I was really fired up but at that stage I saw that being with that problem, I had to take care not to be overtaken by Button because he had a better car out of the corner at that time, so it took me two laps to get going again and after that it was okay.
Q: (Richard Williams The Guardian) On the same subject, Michael, were you actually unhappy with the pace of the safety car today?
MS: I would have wished it to go quicker, yeah.
Q: (Richard Williams) On grounds of safety? Because it was going slower?
MS: No, when you have a Formula One car and you have to drive behind the road car, its not the easiest thing to warm up your tyres.
Q: (Will Buxton - Metro) Michael, this is your 80th win, on the occasion of your 75th, you said that you didnt race for records, you raced because you loved it. Does the 80th bring any more enjoyment than the first or are they all the same?
MS: It is just different, honestly.
Q: (Pascal Dro Auto Plus) Kimi, when the safety car came in, you put in a wonderful lap just after the safety car came in and then Michael pulled away. Can you tell us exactly what happened from there to the end of the race?
KR: Because I had new tyres, you can see sometimes that the Michelins are working very well straight after you go out, so I was able to pull away. Then at the end I had more fuel than in his car. Maybe I struggled a little bit more on the last set of tyres then the others, I was sliding a bit from the rear of the car so I was not able to keep a distance or to keep close to him so I backed off for a little while, and then tried to push again after that.
Q: (Bob Bull BBC Three Counties Radio) The British Grand Prix could be under threat, would you be sorry if you werent racing in Great Britain?
MS: Yup, certainly.
KR: Its a nice circuit to race on. We get some overtaking so it would be nice to come back here.
Q: (Paul Turner South Wales Evening Post) Weve heard about McLaren having some more improvements. Have Ferrari got something up their sleeve for the next few races?
MS: Certainly we are not sleeping so we are working on new projects but we keep on working on the old one as well, because we like winning, honestly.