Post-qualifying press conference - Germany 24 Jul 2004
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m13.306s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), 1m13.668s; 3rd Jenson Button (BAR), 1m13.674s.
Q: Michael, it is your first pole since the Nurburgring, in front of your home crowd.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, that is interesting. It seems to be the German Grands Prix in a way. Anyway, it is a nice one, its the right time to do it in front of the home crowd, no doubt, and I think with the way things are going for us this weekend this is very promising for us.
Q: What were your thoughts after pre-qualifying you were midfield there and you gained 0.7 seconds on that qualifying lap.
MS: Yeah, obviously, as usual, I am the first one out, which I shouldnt complain about because there is a good reason for it, but being circuit sweeper and not knowing exactly the grip so you cannot always put it onto the edge until you find out in the first couple of corners where you are, it didnt really then work out. But we were still reasonable and being in the midfield starting the second session wasnt too much of a problem for me because the circuit seemed to have settled in after a while and then didnt pick up any more.
Q: How was the lap, you looked very, very good on sectors two and three.
MS: Yeah, sectors two and three I just got perfectly together, sector one probably was not 100 percent but I think all of us can say we lost here and there a little bit of time.
Q: Juan Pablo, the resurgence of BMW-Williams and on the front row for the first time since Spain.
Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Yeah, I think it is nice to be back in front. The car, I think Williams and BMW have done a great job over the last couple of races, and I think since Magny-Cours there is a couple of new things and it is good to see the team back in good shape. It is a shame we couldnt have gone any faster. I think we have a very good race car, but we have to wait and see how it comes out tomorrow.
Q: You were very, very close for the pole - were you thinking of pole?
JPM: Yeah, a little bit. I made a little mistake; I went onto the grass at turn seven, just the corner before the stadium, the right-hander, put the car on the grass and had a big snap there, so I lost a bit of speed on the back straight.
Q: Jenson, a bit of a bitter-sweet day. Obviously you were quick but a problem with the car means you are going to have to start 10 positions further back.
Jenson BUTTON: It is, you know, its difficult because we have been very strong here on long runs and it is more our one-lap pace that we have had to work on. So it is disappointing that we are going back to 13th on the grid, but these things happen. I have been very lucky in the races not to have any failures so, we make mistakes and the team makes mistakes sometimes.
Q: As it happens, 13th is your highest ever qualifying position for the German Grand Prix and you have scored points in three out of four of those races.
JB: True, I have had a pretty good run here in the past in cars that really havent been good enough to be in the top five or six places. There is a good chance we can get points here and that is our aim to get both cars in the points, and hopefully not just one or two points. We have got a very good race pace and I am looking forward to the race. It should be very exciting.
Q: Michael, how do you see the race going? It looks to be very close now.
MS: First of all, I guess it is going to be nice and warm tomorrow, quite high temperatures and nice and sunny so it is going to be good for the spectators to have a nice afternoon and hopefully we can put the show on for them to enjoy it.
Q: Michael, after practice, the last two days, it might be a bit surprising to see you at the top of the timesheets because you have not been quickest in all that many sessions so far. Is it a surprise for you?
MS: No, not really. It is a surprise to be up by that much but I wasnt too surprised in the end because we worked the car very well. We just got it to the point in the final run in free practice, when I couldnt put a time in. I was pretty confident we had a chance.
Q: How much did the conditions change from pre-qualifying to qualifying itself?
MS: It is difficult to really judge, but the point is the circuit you always know it is a bit less grippy so you have to be a bit more careful. There was another reason why it didnt work out perfectly well as well, but usually you say half a second to one second, sometimes the circuit does pick up, but I dont know exactly.
Q: You said there was another reason why it didnt work out perfectly well; why was that?
MS: Yeah, we didnt have or maybe probably myself, I didnt approach things properly.
Q: It must be very difficult to see who your rivals are, because theyre just coming at you from all directions at the moment.
MS: Yeah, but it has been (that way) all year long, it has always changed in these respects. I take it the way it comes.
Q: Finally, what about your own personal health because you had a flu.
MS: Its OK. Its getting much better. Tomorrow I will be (OK).
Q: Juan Pablo, are you a bit surprised at the grid? You were very quick in pre-qualifying.
JPM: No, not really. I was a bit surprised by Jensons pace. You know in long runs he looked really strong but in one lap he wasnt able to put the lap together but he did a good job. For us it worked well. We need to go a bit faster.
Q: You talked about the car stability yesterday, has that given you confidence?
JPM: Yeah, it has improved a lot. The car has not been predictable to drive. It is good. The biggest problem has been understeer but I think for the race it is good.
Q: And the strategy?
JPM: I think were probably in the ballpark, same as everybody, I would imagine.
Q: Were you a bit surprised by Michaels lap?
JPM: A little bit but the way the Ferrari is behaving this year it is not surprising.
Q: OK, Jenson, you lost out on one grid placing by 0.006s, I expect you know where that went!
JB: Not really. At the hairpin I locked up and went wide, but I actually gained time because I braked very very late there. But 13th on the grid is probably better than 12th actually because it is on the clean side and I would actually rather be 13th than 12th so Im reasonably happy.
Q: How much do you plan for midfield? You know youre going to be docked ten places.
JB: Obviously we knew, but it is very difficult to know where you are going to stand at the end of qualifying. If you are third or youre sixth, it makes such a huge difference. We are around cars that we can hopefully get past in the race and hopefully we are capable of getting some points because it is important, I think, to consistently be scoring the points, even though it might not be many, its important to get some points.
Q: You had something on the car yesterday which you havent been allowed to run today, has that made a big difference? Is that something you liked?
JB: If we had it on the car we are going to like it. But the car has worked very well today. Its the best its felt for a long time over a long run. We have been struggling a little bit with that over the last few races, with consistency. But its there now, just a pity Im not at the front to be able to use it. But even so, its going to be a very exciting race for me from 13th.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Salvatore Zanca - Maxsport) Michael, you just said you didnt approach things properly? What did you mean by that? Mechanically? Mentally? Physically?
MS: Just leave it at that.