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Post-race press conference - Italy 12 Sep 2004

Race winner Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari in the post race press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, 12 September 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari); 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 3rd Jenson Button (BAR).

Q: Rubens, a great result. Leading by 6.9s at the end of the first lap and then in the pits on lap five.
Rubens BARRICHELLO:
It was a difficult decision at the start because when we went to the grid it was fairly wet. The sun was out and basically it was going to dry, but it was very difficult to know when. I thought that on the wets I could open a gap in the first five laps that I would be able to really be happy after the pit stops and stop one but it was difficult to know when and on the radio it was a bit of a mess to know whether to come in or not. ‘Alonso’s doing well, no, stay out.’ So I think it was a lap too much, too long, to be honest, but everything worked out very well. There was a point in the middle of the race where I thought everything was lost because Michael overtook me, Pizzonia overtook me and I actually took a gamble yesterday to go a little bit towards wet settings. The thing was drying out so quickly and I had a lot of understeer but obviously as the fuel ran down my car became faster and faster and I was able to push and I was delighted.

Q: You were phenomenally quick in that build-up to what was effectively your third pit stop.
RB:
I tell you, I didn’t see anything; I just kept pushing and pushing. I felt like yesterday’s qualifying lap was tremendous. I was telling myself you deserve this, just push the throttle down, and just go as fast as you can. So when I came out of the pits I had no-one in front and no-one behind that I could see. So then I asked ‘which position am I in, which position am I in?’ And they said ‘P1’ and then I said something in Portuguese which I can’t say here now but it was just a phenomenal feeling and that’s why I am so relieved and so delighted as well.

Q: But then you did have Michael in your mirrors right at the end of the race.
RB:
Yeah. Well at that stage the team told both us, I think, to conserve the engines just a little bit because we had to push very hard in the middle of the race so at that stage I felt quite comfortable to be honest.

Q: Michael, P15, I think you were on the first lap – it was an interesting first lap for you.
Michael SCHUMACHER:
Was it even P15? I thought it was completely last because after the spin I had to let everybody through in order get going because they were coming and I really had to wait to avoid an accident. But it was an interesting race, yes. Interesting battles I had today, it was really worth it and coming in second during the race I wouldn’t have thought that because it was difficult to judge who was going to do what and I wouldn’t have expected that it would be possible to be overtaking the front runners because I thought the pace would have been closer. But our car ran fantastically well, despite the first couple of laps when it was damp, and that obviously gave us the possibilities.

Q: On that first lap what actually happened? Why did you have those two moments at the first and second chicanes?
MS:
At the first chicane I just couldn’t stop the car in time. It looks like we struggled a little bit more than the other tyre companies, so I had to run straight. I then slowed down to let Juan get through. Juan played a little bit smart and slowed down himself to make it look like I was gaining an advantage. Anyway, I kept on going, and then coming into the second chicane it was just slippery again. I was sliding, got a nice four wheel slide. Jenson was on the outside, he couldn’t avoid that one and I just touched slightly with my front wheel, I don’t know, on his side pod, which spun me around. It was just one of those things, they do happen. In the conditions it was very difficult. I thought it was the right decision to go with slicks. I know it was going to be tricky. In the end, you see that both cars came in within one second, so both decisions seemed to be right in a way.

Q: And Jenson, a great drive for you, particularly in those early slippery stages.
Jenson BUTTON:
Yeah, it was a very interesting race. I didn’t think the Ferraris were going to be so strong towards the end of the race but the pace of these two guys was just untouchable. But all in all it’s a fantastic race for us as a team. We have taken second place in the championship now in the Constructors, two points in front of Renault, I think. So it’s fantastic. I have to dedicate this podium to them and also my granddad, who is watching from his hospital bed at the moment.

Q: On that last set of tyres, was the car any different to how it had been in the earlier stage of the race?
JB:
Obviously the first set of tyres we were in damp conditions and it’s very difficult to feel how the second set of tyres are going to be when the circuit’s completely dry. The balance wasn’t too bad. The car seems to run much better on low fuel towards the end of the stints, that’s when the car gets stronger and that’s when I was able to pull out a gap on Alonso and Montoya. So I knew that was to come, so I was pretty positive that we were pretty strong for a podium position at least. I actually thought we had the chance of a win there but, as I said, I didn’t know these two guys would be so strong.

Q: Rubens, no doubt an emotional day, not only for you personally but for the team as a whole - the hat-trick here at Monza and your eighth one-two as a team this season. A few final words from you please?
RB:
Well, I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that this is the best season ever. It was lacking one win at least for me and the amount of points, the amount of victories that Michael had, the way we won the Constructors, the team is very well and so this is for them as well, the way they behave, even though we win races. In half an hour we are going to be in a meeting thinking about the next race already so I think that shows how they are strong and how we are behaving with their cars. So it’s great thanks to all the team and to all the tifosi because it was a very good weekend. I just love every moment. Even though we had a time in the middle of the race that we thought it was gone, everything came back and so that’s why we have to believe in life that whenever it’s your day, it has to be your day.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Rubens, well done. What was it like there on the rostrum, what is it like to win for Ferrari here at Monza?
RB:
It’s magic. I’ve had a few wins in my life and this is the first time I have won twice on the same track and it’s just as magic as the last time, the way it was done and the way they are. It’s just the same as some time ago. People say Formula One is boring, I don’t think today was boring at all, obviously for many reasons, probably most of the reasons are because of the wet. But they are here and as far as your eyes could go there were just people in the middle of the track, so it’s just an unbelievable feeling because they are Italians, they have hearts, just like the Brazilians, so it’s a very good feeling between us.

Q: At the start of the race the track was drying. Was it a difficult decision to stay on wets? Did you nearly change your mind?
RB:
I knew that the track was going to dry probably earlier than I thought but the conclusion was done on the lap for the start of the race, on the lap to the grid I thought it was still fairly wet. It was actually dangerous because in those circumstances maybe the Michelins could go a little bit faster than us, so starting from pole not knowing where to brake on the first lap, at the first corner and people could come spinning and catch you or something like this. So I thought, okay, I just drive as fast as I can and go away from them and it worked really well for the first two laps. The track really dried out phenomenally fast so I think it was the right decision but maybe I should have come in one lap earlier to be honest, then I probably would have had an easier run in the middle of the race.

Q: Did you think it was all lost then?
RB:
When I saw Michael coming and then we saw P9 and P10 and I didn’t really know where I was standing. Then I saw Pizzonia coming very strongly, but then he went straight on and then I overtook him again, and then he overtook me again, so there was a battle going on there but in trying to concentrate and be as fast as you can because I was on a different strategy at that point. I had a lot of fuel at the beginning at the race and then we changed strategy to suit what I was planning with wet tyres, so at one point I thought it was lost but from one lap to another I looked, I was P9 and then I was P4 and the guys were right in front. I said three, two, one. So there they are, they’re exactly there, so then I started to feel that things could become better, even though I couldn’t overtake Montoya, because under braking it was quite slippery. So I think it was a good call from the team and from Ross just to change the strategy around.

Q: Then rejoining after that last stop?
RB:
It was unbelievable because, to be honest with you, I went out, braked as late as I could and made the chicane, tried to look at the public so see if they were standing up or not because they could tell me if I was in a good position or not. But I couldn’t see and then I was on the radio saying ‘which position am I in, which position am I in?’ And then we lost communication up the Ascari where they said ‘Rubens, just calm down, you are in P1.’ I couldn’t believe it and then I shouted very loudly in Portuguese, so it was amazing.

Q: Michael, how much of a difficult decision was it for you on the grid to go onto dries?
MS:
Honestly, I knew neither decision would be right and that was the problem. I knew Rubens thought to go on the intermediates so I thought okay I will go the other way so at least one of our cars should look good. But then in the end, if you look how we came in, both decisions were similar although you have to say had I not spun and blah, blah, blah, maybe it would have worked out slightly better but I think he deserves very much his victory today because he did a great race, he did a fantastic qualifying yesterday so it’s good to see him there.

Q: Can you tell us exactly what happened there at the second chicane because we didn’t really see it on the television?
MS:
It was just very slippery. It was very tricky to go through Curva Grande and then braking on the wet with dry tyres is just like on ice for us at least and I was going on a nice four-wheel slide, which you sometimes like to have, but then there was no space left as Jenson was just going around me on the outside, I touched slightly on his side pod or somewhere and then spun around. That was it. It was just down to me and not having enough grip.

Q: And did you think everything was lost after that?
MS:
No, certainly not. The most terrible moments are those ones where you spin and you sit there and you have to wait until everyone goes by before you can get going. I mean, that is just so terrible, you wish to keep going because when I spun I kept on the power because I thought I could swing it around and just keep going but then one of the Renaults came towards me and I thought if I did that its going to be kissing and I didn’t want to have that.

Q: Michael, it has been very different race for you today and yet you really sound as if you have enjoyed it.
MS:
I mean, if you work your way through from last position, sort of, and you finish second you don’t believe it, similar to Rubens. I mean, we were so far back at a certain stage of the race that for me there was no way we were going to win the race. And even towards the end when Rubens came out in front of me after the pit stop I came on the radio and said ‘so, who is now first and what is going on?’ because I knew of Jenson in front of me but at a certain stage I was P3 behind Jenson so then I thought there must have been someone in front of us and one of the Renaults spun and when he spun I thought okay that must have been Trulli and then there was Alonso somewhere in front which we have to catch up and they said ‘no you are going to be P2 behind Rubens’ and I thought okay, great! (Laughter)

Q: Jenson, for you I think the race was just a little bit too long.
JB:
Yeah, it was. I think we did a fantastic performance, especially at the first stage of the race, to get up to third position before the first pit stop wasn’t too bad considering where I was going into the first corner but these two guys were just too quick today. The performance in the dry is just staggering. I mean, we were nowhere near and to still have them in my sights at the end – obviously it’s a very long straight here – but that was pretty special for us because we didn’t expect that.

Q: Were you slightly on wet settings?
JB:
No

Q: And the incident with Michael was pretty much the same from your view?
JB:
When I turned into turn two I actually thought I was going the wrong way because everyone was going straight on at the time! But I was able to get the car into the corner, I was on the outside which normally is a bit more grippy in turn-in because you don’t use that line in the dry, so I had quite a lot of grip but I knew Michael was a little bit out of control on the inside but I had to try and make the corner and I did and Michael came off worse.

Q: The middle stint with Fernando behind you and Juan Pablo as well. That must have been thrilling - it was from our point of view!
JB:
It’s thrilling when you are catching up to other people but when they are catching you it’s not so much fun. But I knew that towards the end of the stint, when we were on lower fuel, the car works very well so I was just biding my time really and looking after the tyres and the last three or four laps before the pit stop I pushed a bit harder and was able to get a bit of a gap.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Michele Merlino – Autosprint) Michael, did you know that at the beginning of the race you had a disadvantage from the leading guys?
MS:
No. You get the information to the guys in front of you. At that stage it is less important who is leading because you are so far back.

Q: (Gao Xing – Xin Min Evening Newsi) What are your expectations of Shanghai?
RB:
Our expectations are as high as possible. We are going to be delighted to go there, they say the facilities are amazing and the racing track is quite amazing too, so I hope that we can have a good race there. I just saw the circuit on paper so I am looking forward to getting there as soon as possible.
MS: Very similar. I think all of us are looking forward to going there and experiencing a new country, for me at least, I have never been to China so it is great to go there, take a couple of days to see the country and then look forward to the race circuit.
JB: I think I am one of the few drivers who have visited the circuit and I think it’s going to be very exciting for everyone involved to arrive in Shanghai and see the facilities that are there because it is staggering. And also I think we are going to have a pretty good race there because it seems like a circuit that is going to be good for overtaking and I am looking forward to going there in two weeks.

Q: (Peter Windsor – Speed Sport) Michael, whenever we have asked you this year after qualifying about Renaults making good starts you have usually said ‘yeah, but we do too’. Here again we saw Fernando incredibly quick off the line or was it more a question of the difference between the two types of tyre in those conditions?
MS:
Yeah, he did a slightly better start but I didn’t think it was as much of a difference as it has been in other places plus it is slightly damp conditions and we know we struggle a bit on those conditions. We look at certain starts and I think, actually, most of them we have been as competitive. There have been others where we have not been competitive compared to them. It’s just when and where you want to look at it.

Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Rubens, on lap 37 the gap to Jenson was not enough to let you leave the pits in front of him and suddenly on lap 42, five or six laps later, you increased the gap and that allowed you to win the race. Can you explain these five or six laps?
RB:
As I said before I didn’t know where I was and I was pushing very hard. The balance of the car was not fantastic after three or four laps after the new tyres so I had to do some changes that we are allowed to make inside the, the car became better and better, especially under braking, and I was able to just get a rhythm going very fast. But as I said I was pushing as I was entering the pits and pushing everywhere because I didn’t know where I was and it took me a while to find out after the pit stop.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – Gazetta dello Sport) Jenson, what did you think when you saw Barrichello exit the pits in front of you and in the same time Michael was overtaking you and were you surprised by the Ferraris today?
JB:
First of all I was a bit confused because the team was on the radio shouting about Rubens, ‘ah, he’s going to come out in front’ and I wasn’t sure if Michael was Rubens and he had pitted a lap earlier than expected so I was a little bit confused. When I saw Michael come alongside me I was thinking ‘ah, that means there’s two in front’ and that’s when Rubens came out of the pits and I was in third position. I was not really surprised about their pace, we expected the Ferraris to be quick here and they have done a fantastic job. Nobody can take that away from them.

Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Jenson, after a fantastic drive like that and BAR clearly showing they are clearly the second best team on the grid, do you not have any second thoughts about the decision you have made for next season?
JB:
Erm, no.

Q: (That’s better than a no comment I suppose!
JB:
(Laughter) I answered it!