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Post-race press conference - Belgium 29 Aug 2004

The FIA Post Race Press Conference: Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, second and World Champion for the seventh time; race winner Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren; Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Belgian Grand Prix, Race Day, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, 29 August 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren); 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 3rd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari).

Q: Kimi, an eventful day, a great race and an alarming first corner from your point of view; it looked as though Felipe Massa was right up inside you there.
Kimi RAIKKONEN:
Yeah, I got quite a good start. I went on the outside and then halfway through the corner, I think it was Massa hit me in the rear. The car then felt really a bit funny and I almost came in, because I thought something had broken at the rear but I kept going and there was only a little damage on the floor. Then I got past Michael after the restart but after that, after I got past Michael, I got some sort of problem with the downshift so every time when I went down to downshift, the car was just pushing forward and the gears were not going in. So the whole race I was struggling, I was quite slow at that point but then sometimes it started to work. I was turning the switches all the time and trying to get the car back to the finish line and it wasn’t easy to try but it was good enough to win.

Q: Amazing. Talk about that last restart. The pressure was on, Michael was right behind you, a few laps to go, everything to play for.
KR:
Yeah. I know that it should work pretty well after the restart and quite often when we slow down after really fast laps the tyres even get better, so the tyres worked very well on the first and second lap after the restart and I think I got the fastest lap on the restart lap. I couldn’t hope for a better result today.

Q: An incredible win, the first win for your team since Malaysia 2003. Your thoughts on the team finally returning to the podium?
KR:
It’s very good for the team and for me. We’ve had such a difficult season and when we got the 19B out, we had some speed and results but we have still been struggling to finish sometimes and we’ve finally now got what we deserved and hopefully we can keep it up this year and challenge for the title next year.

Q: Michael, what a day. Difficult to know where to start from your point of view so let’s hear it from you. In those early laps, obviously you faded a little bit. Was that a question of the tyres coming up to temperature at a different rate to perhaps the opposition?
Michael SCHUMACHER:
I think so. It was an eventfully day, honestly, with all the safety cars and the conditions we had at that moment. It was a tough one and considering where I had dropped back to, and where I finished now, I think I should only be happy, anyway. We clinched the championship, we had a tough fight, Kimi drove a superb race. I think all three of us can be very happy to be here at the moment, if you imagined what happened to Rubens and still he managed to come back to third position, so it’s a great day for all of us and I’m just so delighted and happy. I would have honestly and obviously rather finished the championship with a victory, but today we simply weren’t strong enough at the right moments and that’s the way it is. We have won so many races this year it was clear that at some stage somebody else would win and today it happened, the better one won and we’re quite happy with what we achieved.

Q: It’s amazing how Spa keeps coming back into your career as a place for momentous occasions.
MS:
Yeah, that’s true. If you think what I have achieved here, how things started here and finally I can say I won a very important and a very prestigious number, a seventh championship here at Spa. It’s the seven hundredth Grand Prix for Ferrari, it’s my seventh win in the championship and it’s just 700 the other way around! And it’s the right number for us.

Q: Rubens, what a day for you as well. Contact right at the start at La Source.
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
Well, to be honest, I have to go and see what happened on the video. I had a good start and I think I had Fisichella covered quite well. Then, as I turned into the corner, there was a contact. I was able to keep on going but soon I saw there was damage to my rear tyre. Then, on that lap, they told me to come back because there was damage to the wing and at Spa it’s too difficult to drive with wing damage. So I came in, they did a superb job to keep me going and I think I was more than five seconds behind the last car so I had a day when I kept on pushing the whole time, so I have to be happy.

Q: How did the car feel in the later stages of the race? You looked very quick right at the end there.
RB:
Yeah, the car was very good. We had a small problem with the warming up situation but I had a Jordan right in the middle, so I couldn’t have done any better, I had to go through the whole of Eau Rouge behind the Jordan car so I lost time to Michael anyway.

Q: Kimi, some final thoughts from you: a great race, Michael clinched the championship here and you raced him hard and fast throughout the day. Your thoughts and reflections on that race?
KR:
I must say very happy because we won the race and we’ve been working hard. And congratulations to Michael on winning the championship and hopefully we can challenge him or whoever it is next year. But for the whole team it was a very good day: starting from tenth and finishing first. Maybe many people didn’t believe that we could do that, but we had a strong car already on Friday and even in the wet conditions it wasn’t bad, but I made a small mistake yesterday which cost me some places, so there will definitely be some good partying today.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, starting tenth on the grid, did you ever think you could win this race?
KR:
I knew that the car was pretty good because in the only dry running we did on Friday we were quickest so I was quite hopeful to be at least on the podium here, but maybe I wasn’t thinking that the car was as good as it was, even though we had quite a few problems with the shifting. Every time when I tried to downshift, the car was just pushing and the gears were not going on so I was struggling quite a bit with it in some points. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not and I almost spun off a few times because it locked up the rear end completely so I’m pretty happy with the results we got in the end.

Q: When was that, Kimi, when did you start having that problem?
KR:
It started after I passed Michael, maybe two laps after that, like lap ten or something or eight.

Q: And then it happened all the way through the rest of the race?
KR:
Yeah. I think for a few laps it was working and then I started to have the problem again so I was changing the switches on the steering wheel at every corner and trying to get some sort of idea how I could manage to push again, because I lost so many seconds in those two laps before I could know that it was going to happen under braking, so that was good for us.

Q: So how did you cure it then? You just had to drive around it…
KR:
Yeah. Actually we have a different position on engine braking, so one of them was working but that’s like extreme, so it’s like locking the rear wheels all of the time so I was using it at the hairpin and into the chicane because otherwise I couldn’t stop the car. So that was the only way and then changing the position for the other corners.

Q: Early on, you overtook David; was that easy, how did that work out?
KR:
I just went flat out through Eau Rouge and up the hill I was much quicker up the hill and I was just went past him.

Q: And any other major moments?
KR:
No, not really. Only once. I think Alonso was having some problems because he was leaking oil from the car and I came behind him through Eau Rouge and got a little bit sideways there but that’s all.

Q: Michael. Seven-times world champion, is it an emotional moment?
MS:
The good thing is that it is always different. I mean whatever you achieve I’ve found you always have different emotions and certainly what I feel today is difficult to put into words, but it doesn’t feel anywhere what I have felt at the sixth or the fifth time. It’s very special, we are here in Spa, which does mean a lot to me, the circuit, the place, and to clinch the seventh title at the 700th Grand Prix for Ferrari is something very special. I’m just very proud to have achieved this together with the team, which I think is extraordinary, who proved today with Rubens to do a superb job to get him going again after changing wing, and so on, and stay within the same lap. Obviously the safety car helped, but nevertheless it was a good job and they are so great. It is what makes us strong and it is just a fantastic moment to celebrate and to feel…it doesn’t need a lot of emotional outbreaks, its important what I think and what I feel and that is good feelings.

Q: Looking at the race itself, after the safety car period Kimi and Montoya overtook you I think…in fact there was a very interesting overtaking manoeuvre by Juan Pablo up here at the chicane. Tell us about that…
MS:
Obviously he was all over me because it took a long time before my tyres got going and got temperatures. The safety car was out for a long time and in that moment we struggled a little bit to get pressures back on and temperatures back on and the opposite with the Michelin runners. We have seen this very often so it is not a surprise, especially if conditions are rather cruel, like they have been here, and I’ve been on the hard tyres today as well which didn’t help. It was great for the race consistency-wise, but not so good for the safety car, and we didn’t expect three or four safety car moments. But anyway, if you consider where I have been at some stage of the race and where I ended up in the race, what happened to Rubens – he did a great race to come back from that position, and Kimi won the race, so all three have good reasons to be happy today and celebrate today and certainly I am.

Q: There was one pit-stop, lap 30, which was just at the second safety car period. Where you coming in then or did they call you in?
MS:
No, no. We were in anyway. But we got the information earlier enough, we could have reacted early enough because I think when I came through 17 I got information that the safety car would have been out so I could have adopted. But it was planned anyway.

Q: Rubens, when you had that first pit-stop did you ever think you could come back onto the podium?
RB:
Well, I mean, it is difficult to think of anything at that time because you stop there and people are talking to you. There is a magic feeling because Ross was talking to me as if we were talking face-to-face in a living room and saying ‘keep it going, we are just changing your wing, we think we can do it before the safety car comes by and then you go again and try’. I was five or more seconds behind the last car and I kept on doing…it was difficult to follow the cars, my car by itself was really good, but following Panis for example I lost a lot of time. But I was unlucky at the beginning of the race, I was lucky that the safety car came on and I had no pit-stop any more, I could go towards the end, so it was really good.

Q: Where do you think the damage was done on that first lap? Was it at La Source or at the top of Eau Rouge?
RB:
No it was done at La Source. I didn’t have anyone on me at Eau Rouge I don’t think. I felt a very big bang and I don’t know from who. I thought it was Webber but they told me it was Massa. I went into the corner and I think everything was pretty well covered and all of a sudden there was a boom and I went forward. It looked to me as if everything was okay and I was flat out going downhill when all of sudden the car was weaving a little a bit so thank God I lifted off. There was a tyre puncture and also there was some damage to the rear wing, which in a way was good that we didn’t do the first time because I don’t think we would have done it in time, so we did the tyre and went out then did the wing afterwards, which was a good thing from the team.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Ottavio Daviddi- Tuttosport) Michael is there a person you want to dedicate this championship to?
MS:
I don’t think it is necessary to dedicate things because there are so many people who are responsible for this success. It would be unfair to dedicate it simply to one person. Obviously I know that our president has his birthday on Tuesday but he obviously has a great proportion of that success. I think it is just appropriate to give him that proportion of the title as he deserves and he deserves a big proportion of it obviously. Just to clarify that because there was some statement that I would dedicate the title to the president because of his birthday. I never made that statement, just to be clear on this, so it was found from somebody. I don’t know who.

Q: (Dan Knutson – National Speed Sport News) To all three of you. We have seen a great race today. Meanwhile in Athens another great competition, the Olympics, is coming to a close. What particular events and athletes have you guys been following at the Olympics?
KR:
Actually I went there for a promotion so I saw the basketball and the beach volley competition. That’s all really.
RB: Did Brazil win? I was following very closely and I enjoy very much (laughter).
MS: Yeah I was very impressed with what our hockey girls have done. I have seen the semi-final and I saw afterwards the result, plus our handballers did a great job to come to the final. Actually I don’t know if the final has happened yet or not. So there were quite a lot of emotional things. Plus last evening I saw the 400 metres were America was pretty clearly the favourite and still the English managed to beat them. So there was quite a lot of emotional things going on, quite a lot of surprises and what comes out to me that a lot of little nations which you didn’t expect anything of in terms of team sport, like soccer, like basketball, managed to do much better than anyone expected. I say that because in Germany we have a lot of criticism of our soccer team and the simply the fact is that everyone has become so good and the level is so much higher that you get a lot of surprises because sport became so international and there are so many good people around now.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, do you think after this victory that you can fight in all of the last races with the red cars?
KR:
I think so, once we get everything sorted out and we don’t have any problems. I think the rest of the races should be pretty good for us, but it will be difficult to win always and we will give our best as a team and hopefully we can win some more races.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, some drivers with Michelin tyres had punctures, the rear right tyre blew up – Button, Montoya. Were you worried about that?
KR:
No. The only thing at the start of the race that I was a little bit worried about was that my car was damaged because I think it was Massa who hit me in the rear at the first corner so the car felt a little bit funny when the safety car came out. But luckily enough there was only small damage on the floor so it didn’t really hurt me much.

Q: As drivers would you say the track was clean. Obviously there were some incidents and it is difficult to clean it all up, but would you say it was pretty good?
KR:
Yeah. I guess this is always a little bit dirty so it was as clean as the marshals and the people could do it.
RB: It was a bit hard on tyres as well. It didn’t have a lot of rubber because of the rain. It is actually something to think for next year. I don’t know if the rules are going to change.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Deustchland) Kimi, there was a moment when you were standing on the podium and looking down at your crew. What were you thinking?
KR:
Of course I was looking at them, but I was also looking at the other people also. I was happy, happy for myself and for the team. We’ve been working hard especially because the start of the season was so difficult for us so finally we have got some good results and something back from the hard work and hopefully we can keep it up and we have learned from the mistakes we did. So I’m pretty confident that next year we should be back were we are now and hopefully fight for all the wins.

Q: (Livio Oricchio) Michael, we have been following your career and in the beginning you used to celebrate your titles and the last few ones you look sad, this time happy. Can you explain this?
MS:
Thoughtful but not sad at all.

Q: (Anna Vassilieva – Auto Business Weekly) Question for all of you. Which tyre manufacturer was the most successful today, Bridgestone or Michelin?
KR:
I guess…
MS: Bridgestone (laughter)
KR: If you only look at the Grand Prix I think Michelin won, but overall it is quite difficult to say. My tyres were working really well today all of the race so I was very happy with the tyres and hopefully it is the same situation in the next races.

Q: (Juha Päätalo) Michael, this was obviously a moment that you knew would come one day. Now that it has come is it a kind of relief? How do you feel?
MS:
As I said before none of the championships feel the same. I mean I accept being happy and knowing what I have achieved I’m just thinking, I’m just quiet and trying not to talk too much and enjoy that moment.

Q: Kimi, an English journalist said he would run naked around Silverstone if McLaren won a race this year. Will you be there?
KR:
I think so. I definitely will go and hopefully it is raining heavily, so it will be even more fun. (laughter). Let’s hope that he will keep his word.