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Post-qualifying press conference - Hungary 14 Aug 2004

Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m19.146s; 2nd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1m19.323s; 3rd Takuma Sato (BAR), 1m19.693s.

Q: Michael, I guess the way to start is what a difference a year makes, fifth and eighth last year, and now an all-Ferrari front row for the fourth time this year.
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Yup, compared to last year it’s significantly better. We obviously worked very hard for that result. We all gave a big push during the last testing session, particularly in Jerez where it was very hot and we did great preparation there for both Hockenheim and for Hungary, and this is the result. That’s why we are there and it’s been just a great effort from everyone.

Q: What does the grid look like from your point of view? Are you surprised by the way the grid is shaping up?
MS:
No, not really, honestly. I guess that’s what you should have expected with the exception of the McLarens. I expected them to be a little faster but maybe they’re running on a different strategy – we’ll find out tomorrow. But in general you have to expect the BARs to be quick and the Renaults to be quick.

Q: Rubens, it looked like a great qualifying lap there. Talk us through it - the pole was there perhaps for the taking?
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
It was altogether a good lap. It’s a little bit disappointing not to have the pole because this morning although the track was different from when Michael was out, it was a really good lap this morning but everything was running quite smoothly. We knew that we were going to be very much together so it was going to be one side, but I think he did a fantastic job just to really do a perfect lap. I missed out a little bit towards the end of the lap, but even so I’m happy. The lap wasn’t too bad.

Q: P2, on the dirty side of the grid…
RB:
Yeah, that’s one of the worst P2s of the year, because it’s really dirty on that side but I think Ferrari has been doing a fantastic job with the start and I have to be very optimistic for tomorrow’s race.

Q: Taku, a great lap from you too but quite a spectacular moment at turn 11?
Takuma SATO:
Yeah. It was the fastest part of the circuit. I dropped a wheel a little bit and I lost a few tenths but it wouldn’t have cost me a lot, I wouldn’t be on the front row anyway so I’m very happy to get on the second row.

Q: This race has been won five times from third place on the grid - what are your thoughts on that?
TS:
It’s been great to be back on the front rows here because after Indy, to be honest, we struggled a little bit on speed for the next few races. But then at Hockenheim, the last race, we were back on the pace and here we are back on the pace again so it was a very good step forward and we are very happy with it.

Q: Michael, just going back to you, your thoughts on the race tomorrow? This is quite a hard race from a physical driver point of view as well.
MS:
It is, indeed. There’s a lot of action on the steering wheel, it’s required because you slide a lot. It’s sort of bumpy, a little bit unpredictable to put the car around every lap, so it’s a hard work-out but that’s what we’re trained for, prepared for and I look forward to it and I’m going to enjoy it.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Michael, you mentioned just now how you had tested for this circuit at Jerez, where it’s very hot. This is probably the coolest day we have had at the Hungarian Grand Prix for ages so what sort of a difference has that made to you guys?
MS:
I guess it does make a difference but I am not sure in which way because usually we have not struggled towards the lower temperatures, it’s just difficult at the other temperatures. But I think we have seen at Hockenheim and recent races before that we have improved in general. But anyway, Bridgestone have given a big push, and Shell, obviously, and in this respect we just picked up the performance and look good now.

Q: Has the new Bridgestone tyre made a big difference here do you think?
MS:
Well, it’s obviously not possible to quantify it as we don’t run them back-to-back, but from what we know from testing it has given us an advantage.

Q: Were you worried when you saw Rubens’ pre-qualifying time? It was pretty staggering.
MS:
Yeah, it was a fantastic lap but at the same time I sort of know that the circuit can become different between the first and sort of last cars and in this respect I wasn’t too worried as we were always sort of close together from what I saw in the morning and it was just getting the lap right and putting it to the point.

Q: I’ve noticed over the last couple of days you seem to have been a bit slower in the final sector. What do you feel is your problem there, if you do feel there is a problem?
MS:
It’s funny because before everybody said to me that was my strong sector! No, I don’t think I am really struggling in the last sector.

Q: So, the lap, you were obviously very happy with it.
MS:
It was, yeah, it was good.

Q: Do you feel it could have been better?
MS:
You always have that feeling as a race driver.

Q: Rubens, tell us about that pre-qualifying lap because it was absolutely staggering.
RB:
It was really, really, really good and I was quite happy, but like Michael said the performance difference was due on a big part to the fact we had different times when we went to the track so I had a better track there. But it was really good, it was one of my best laps out here and I think it was excellent. It was just nice. Obviously, the car went a little bit more understeer than we felt it was going to be so it was going to go either way with me and Michael. He’s quite strong on that lap and I feel I lost a little bit on sector two with that understeer, otherwise we could have been even closer.

Q: Now, we can see quite a bump in the final sector. How does that affect the drivers in the final corner here?
RB:
Well, the final corner is one that you can make or lose a lot of time, so to be honest with you it’s not a good bump because if you tend to go a little bit deep into the corner and take the bump wrong you’ve lost everything and if you go on the safe side but you take the bump anyway it is going to hurt you. So you have to be a little bit lucky to be on the good side of that bump because it’s a huge one.

Q: Is it going to affect the race itself, do you feel?
RB:
It could affect it in the way that, if somebody in front of you makes a mistake on the bump and you take it right you could overtake. So in that respect it’s not too bad. I hope I am not the guy in front!

Q: Takuma, was that a bit of a surprise or not here?
TS:
It is a good surprise, to be honest. Obviously we knew we were going to be stronger. But until the last race in Germany we slightly lacked the pace after Indy, to be honest. But I think we worked really hard again with the engineers and designers, made a good step forward since then and I think it proved in the last two races that we are back on the pace, which is absolutely great news.

Q: Presumably, you were expecting higher temperatures here. Did you base your tyre choice on that?
TS:
Yeah, I mean, as Michael mentioned, the last few weeks we tested at Jerez with more than 50 degrees track temperature, which is like yesterday’s situation, and we were very confident with the compound and the construction, it was a good step for the tyres and certainly it worked really well yesterday as well. But today, even so, the car and tyres worked really well even though it was more than 20 degrees cooler than yesterday, so we are very happy with that.

Q: We have seen you make some interesting overtaking moves this season so far, this is a particularly difficult circuit on which to overtake…
TS:
It is difficult. This was an almost impossible overtaking circuit until last year, obviously. The circuit was changed last year, which I didn’t drive until this year, but I think we saw a few people did quite good moves last year so it is still possible, but the circuit is quite dry and it is quite windy and gusty so it is always slippery off line, it is always a very big risk to overtake people here.

Q: But you might be taking that risk?
TS:
Well, nothing is impossible, obviously. But we’ll see with our strategies and obviously we are reasonably confident with the consistency of everything so we should be able to do a good fight tomorrow afternoon.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Takuma, looking at what is going on with Jenson Button, is it a particular satisfaction for you to be in front of him and some kind of fresh air for the team?
TS:
It is obviously not exactly the same atmosphere as it was at the last races this weekend but we are very professional people in drivers and designers and mechanics and engineers so once we go into the weekend we are absolutely the same as we were working. So basically it is no changes and we still discuss with an open manner the data, which is no problem, and obviously he is very committed and I am very committed, we are pushing each other in that circumstance nothing has changed.

Q: (Andrew Frankl - Forza) Michael, with Fernando on the clean side behind you, bearing in mind the launch control on the Renaults, are you at all concerned about the first corner and possible fireworks?
MS:
I wasn’t aware they are using launch control but anyway, I am not really concerned.

Q: (Karoly Mehes – Uj Dunantuli Naplo) Takuma, what is your personal strategy for tomorrow - pushing all the time or scoring some points and finishing on the podium?
TS:
As a race driver you have to push all the way through and that is also my style as well, so I will be pushing right from the start. But also, if it’s a hot day tomorrow like yesterday, we have to use the tyres very well but I think we are very happy with our tyre situation here and last year we were very strong so we should be very strong tomorrow afternoon.

Q: (Andrea CREMONESI – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, tomorrow you and Rubens can finalise the first goal of the season - achieving the world championship for Ferrari. What does it mean? Do you think it will be a different race, more focussed on no mistakes?
MS:
I think we are going to do our race as much as we can do it and I don’t think it’s, in a way, a secret that it will be very unlikely to take that title away from us and this way it is just an open race where we enjoy ourselves and go flat out.