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Post-qualifying press conference - Belgium 28 Aug 2004

(L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, Jarno Trulli (ITA) Renault and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in the post qualifying press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 28 August 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Jarno Trulli (Renault), 1m 56.232s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 56.304s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m 56.686s.

Q: Jarno, a great lap and well-timed.
Jarno TRULLI:
Yes, I’ve obviously been very lucky because it was a gamble to use intermediate tyres. The decision came a few seconds before I had to leave the pits, so the mechanics did a very good job. And actually it was difficult conditions because it was just about the right time to use the intermediate tyres, but it worked well for me and Fernando so I’m definitely very happy with this result which puts me on the first row for tomorrow.

Q: Michael, you’ve spoken often about Spa and the respect you have for the circuit. Conditions weren’t too kind to you today.
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Well, that’s the way it is. It is a lottery in a way, just ten minutes to the end, we get this extra splash of rain which wasn’t supposed to be. But anyway, we are on the first row, second position. With the conditions, I think we can be quite happy. We obviously have a big challenge in front of us tomorrow. We know that both these guys are good starters so we hope that our situation can compete and then we will find out how the race goes.

Q: It was, by any standards, a fantastic lap in those conditions. Can you talk us through it?
MS:
It was actually not so fantastic. I struggled a little bit right at the top of the hill into turn five, I got a little bit sideways, I lost grip there, I lost a couple of tenths and then up towards the end, it got a little bit tricky and as you saw that the conditions seemed to favour to be a little bit quicker in the last sector and I didn’t have the traction out of the last corner any more compared with what those guys had and that’s what cost us the time, but I don’t think we need to complain, because for the conditions, to still be in that position, I’m pretty happy. It was a nice lap for that, and we can do everything from there one.

Q: Fernando, it’s going to be an interesting start with the two Renaults there with Michael between you, and you usually make very good starts.
Fernando ALONSO:
Yeah, it will very interesting tomorrow, I think. We know that usually we start very well and tomorrow we have the chance to maybe arrive one-two in the first corner and it will be important for the team, but we have to prepare the race properly. We have had a very difficult day today with no practice this morning and then one single lap qualifying with these changing weather conditions, it’s always difficult for any driver and I think to be in the top three for me is a fantastic result for me today. I was lucky with the weather conditions, also on my lap and for me tomorrow, I think I have a good car, a competitive car in dry conditions and wet conditions and I’m really happy.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jarno, congratulations. No doubt you can remember the last time you were on pole position…
JT:
Actually it was not a long time ago. But for a while I have been having some problems setting up the car and not doing well and a lot of retirements. Actually this comes at the right place. I like Monaco, I like Spa, one of my most favourite circuits. But I must admit today I was very brave, I took a gamble and I was very lucky because the rain started to come after my lap so for the last few drivers I think they had very difficult conditions and I was very lucky to take the intermediate tyres. The intermediate tyres worked pretty well for me, just about right, and I took this gamble. It was decision together with my engineers. We did well.

Q: Were there any moments during the lap?
JT:
You never know because this morning we did a run with full wet tyres then the first time we really used intermediate was during the qualifying lap so I think I took the most out of my car, but there is always something to come and we can always do a better lap. But I think I have done very well today and I am very happy.

Q: Now, the only problem was you didn’t have a very good car yesterday. Have you sorted that out?
JT:
To be honest I don’t know. I struggled big time yesterday in dry conditions with car set-up. For quite a long time I am not comfortable any more in the car and cannot push hard and wear the tyres too much. It is a bit strange. Yesterday I had a similar feeling. Hopefully tomorrow will turn around a bit better.

Q: Michael given that you were on extreme weather tyres for the conditions and these guys were on wet weather tyres for their conditions and they felt it was suitable, it was a pretty remarkable performance for you to be on the front row…
MS:
Yeah in a way it is. That is why I am not complaining or feeling sad. I’m actually quite happy to be where I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: In pre-qualifying, if you look at that as well, you were first to go and no one beat your time even though it was dry the whole way through – it didn’t rain…
MS:
At a certain point unless it gets really dry and you get to use different tyres, it doesn’t really get quicker. There is a point were you can lose because the tyres get too hot and so on.

Q: You mentioned a problem in the third sector, because you were well up when you got to the end of the second sector…
MS:
There wasn’t anything wrong, it was just that when the line is a bit drier and you use the tyres that Jarno used then you have better braking grip and better traction and you can keep better speed through the last chicane and that was where I was lacking. I didn’t have that grip available as the conditions were the way they were and I lost the four-tenths in the last chicane honestly.

Q: Lining up tomorrow surrounded by fast-starting Renaults. How much does that worry you?
MS:
I think we know they are good in starts, but equally we have had very good starts too. We will find out how much our starts work tomorrow.

Q: Fernando. I think you had a bit of a moment at Pouhon didn’t you. How much did that cost you do you think?
FA:
A little bit. I think I had two or three moments that I lost time, but anyway I am happy. I ran very few laps this morning, all with extreme wets, and I didn’t try the intermediate tyres. For me it was my first lap so the in-lap I felt much quicker than quali lap unfortunately. But I think to be in the top-three is a great surprise for us because this morning we didn’t run, it was a difficult day, quali one we were eight and ninth. In wet conditions it is always a lottery, very difficult, and we had the luck on our side today. So I am really, really happy.

Q: You were fastest up to Les Combes up to the first intermediate point…
FA:
The first intermediate point was very quick through Eau Rouge and the second intermediate I took a little bit easy because I was not at full confidence, and when I saw the grip I had in the car I pushed the last sector as well. I lost a little bit in the middle sector but it doesn’t worry me too much. To be in the top-five you have the same options for tomorrow and I have a competitive car in wet conditions, a very competitive car in dry conditions so I don’t need to worry.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Jonathan Noble – Autosport) To all three drivers. Before this weekend there was some criticism of the new design of the Bus Stop chicane. Now you’ve actually driven on it can I get your verdicts on the modifications?
JT:
To be honest it’s pretty good. They improved the safety and it is still a challenging corner. I think you can still try to overtake a car and it is a good step. They’ve done a good job.
MS: I agree.

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) For the three drivers. How difficult was it to approach the qualifying considering you had just 15 minutes of practice?
JT:
Well actually it was not the optimum for everybody, but I think we get used pretty quickly to the conditions. So we can get right to the limit pretty quickly even if we know there is some room for improvement. Especially for me and Fernando I think it was difficult conditions because we changed the tyres we never ran before, with intermediate tyres on the track, so it wasn’t great. We had to compromise a bit during the qualifying lap.
MS: For me it is a little bit difficult, but as we had the practice this morning it is not a problem honestly. After that you know roughly where you have to drive and it is okay.
FA: It was difficult obviously. This morning I personally had not a good car in the practice and I stopped to do a few changes. When I went out Bruni had the accident and there was a red flag so I started the quali one with a new car again and quali two with a new type of tyre so every time I went to the track today I had a different feeling, a different car, different aquaplaning, etc, etc. It was obviously a very difficult day today.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Trulli, before you told that you got married. Could you give us some more details of what happened and why you decided during the middle of the season?
JT:
It was not really something planned. I’ve been with Barbara quite a long time, for five years, and I think it was the right time to get together and marry. Obviously I didn’t want to say much to the press and people, I just wanted it to be quiet. The season is still long and I didn’t celebrate – I will probably celebrate in the future. The most important thing is that we are both happy and the families are happy. That is the way it is.