Post-qualifying press conference - Canada 11 Jun 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Jenson Button (BAR) 1m15.217s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1m15.475s; 3rd Fernando Alonso (Renault) 1m15.561s.
Q: What a comeback! We all know what you and the team have been going through over the last month or so, but on the pole here in Canada.
Jenson Button: A little bit surprised, actually. We expected to come here and be reasonably quick but to challenge the Renaults and McLarens? We didnt quite expect that but its good to be here. This is a huge boost for the team. Weve had a tough few months and theyve worked exceptionally hard, so its great to give them something back.
Q: Your thoughts for the race tomorrow; its obviously very hot, we have a new track surface here, what were the conditions like out there?
JB: It was a little bit slipperier than in practice. I think maybe the wind has picked up a little bit, but the car worked really well. It was reasonable easy to drive and I think weve got a good race package. Im not going to say too much because Ive seen the Renaults and the McLarens in practice and their long run pace looks very good. We will just wait and see what happens tomorrow, but this is a good start anyway.
Q: Obviously this qualifying session does reflect the choice of fuel for the first stint in the race, but your top speed, 318 kph, is about 12 kph down on the guys either side of you. Your thoughts on that?
JB: Oh dear. (Laughs) Yeah, we noticed that in the earlier practices, but for us this is the best level to be at and weve just got to hope that we can keep them behind us in the first few laps of the race when its very close. Its going to be an important part of the race for us and if we can stay in front thats going to help our race no end.
Q: Michael, welcome back. Reading your comments yesterday in the press, you werent that optimistic in terms of where the car was going, gearbox problem this morning, I think, and I think Rubens also had a gearbox problem but a great qualifying result for you in the end.
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, indeed. As you said, yesterday things didnt look very good but we found a lot of reasons for our performance yesterday because it wasnt normal that we would be so far behind. At the end of the day, we got the car together very well this morning. It was a shame that we couldnt finish our work to the end because of a gearbox problem, although we picked up the gearbox problem early enough not to have it at the moment when it matters. So a great job from everybody because it took a huge effort from everybody to bring the car back in the position that we are in. And we were hoping for that position. We worked the car very well this morning and things looked pretty good for us.
Q: Obviously a great one-lap run there. Your thoughts on the race and the track conditions and the problems with the resurfaced track here?
MS: Yes, I guess its not really a problem because if I understand it right, it wasnt a problem with our cars destroying the surface, it was probably the saloon cars which are heavier and which put more load onto the track I dont know, Im just guessing but with the changes and things they have done to the circuit Im pretty sure it shouldnt be an issue tomorrow.
Q: Fernando, a solid looking qualifying run there, your thoughts on that, potential fuel loads and on the race?
Fernando Alonso: Yeah, it has been a good Saturday practice this morning with very good long runs and a good pace, and then in qualifying, its obviously very difficult to know about the fuel loads of other people but we are quite happy with our strategy, I think, for the race. Everything is going well in the team, we are third and fourth, we are very confident with everything in the car and at the moment it all looks perfect for us.
Q: And West McLaren Mercedes not quite as quick as they normally are
FA: Yeah, but again, who knows about the fuel load of the McLarens today? Obviously this is a track that has been historically good for our car and I think this year, also, we were very close with them this morning in practice but I am still confident we can beat them tomorrow. Obviously, to be in front at the start of the race, now, in qualifying is also a help if we want to beat them tomorrow.
Q: And as you were saying earlier, this is a low downforce circuit where the compromise is very important, youre very very quick on the straight.
FA: Yeah, we were quickest yesterday and this morning as well and this can also be a help for the race point of view. But at the moment we decide to stay like this because the car has always been very nice to drive even with this light downforce.
Q: Jenson, well done. What does it feel like to have this pole then?
JB: Er, wow! I was a little bit surprised to be that quick. So yeah, I am very happy. I know that in the race the Renaults and the McLarens and probably the Ferraris are going to be very fast, looking at their practice times today, but this is a good start for us, and it is nice to be back in this position.
Q: And how was the lap?
JB: It was OK. The circuit was quite low grip so it was reasonably difficult, but it was a nice lap to drive, I enjoyed it.
Q: The scenes in the garage looked like youd just won the race, but obviously there was a certain amount of relief there.
JB: Yeah, this is only qualifying, I know that and we know that as a team but we have had a tough few months, weve had a tough year so far so this means a lot to us to be closer to the front again. So yeah, this is a very special moment for everyone in the team and hopefully this is going to help the rest of the year for us.
Q: Whats made the difference, because if we look back two weeks, on your return, there wasnt really a sparkling performance.
JB: Well, before Nurburgring we were testing in Paul Ricard and its not a great aero circuit and we tested some new aero parts which we thought were better, we didnt go any quicker but we thought they were better so we ran with them at the Nurburgring. At Silverstone last week, we put them back on the car and did a comparison and realised that they were making the car very twitchy under braking. So thats one of the reasons, plus we have another aero package on the car here for this weekend, which is very positive. And Honda have done a great job with the engine, we have a new spec engine here which is definitely helping.
JB: Brakes should be fine, we have had no issues in practice. We know this is a very tough circuit on brakes, its been known as the worst so I think well be fine.
Q: Michael, a bit of a surprise to be second?
MS: No. I mean, after yesterday, yes, but not after this mornings work we have done with the car.
Q: Jean Todt has always said you need to start further up on the grid to win, obviously, and here you are, second on the grid, are you feeling confident?
MS: I am feeling much more confident than I have felt so far this season, yes, no doubt.
Q: Jenson on pole position alongside you, do you see any problems with his tyres in comparison with your tyres?
MS: No, I mean, I dont have the times of this morning completely in my mind, of what he did and what I did, but I think you have long straights here anyway where overtaking is a possibility in case someone has an issue.
Q: What about the gearbox problem this morning, was it actually mended or replaced?
MS: I guess it is replaced. We would have replaced the back end anyway, because that is what we usually do, so it was just starting a bit earlier than normal. But it is a bit unusual. We do so much testing and so many miles that I dont really understand why. I guess it is one of those odd issues.
Q: And Rubens problem?
MS: I guess it was the same, in a way. I mean, it was a gearbox issue and we have to analyse that.
Q: Fernando, a bit disappointed to be third?
FA: Well, after the pace we showed yesterday and this morning maybe yes because we were ready to fight with the McLarens and now we have one BAR and one Ferrari in front of us, so this is maybe not disappointing but a surprise, for sure. We have to do our race tomorrow, I think we are confident with our strategy and our fuel loads so hopefully tomorrow we can overtake them.
Q: Its quite a fascinating time at the moment that all of a sudden up pops Ferrari and BAR when you were expecting McLaren.
FA: Yeah, this is Formula One and I think with the new system of qualifying with the fuel loads you can have these surprises. Also, BMW-Williams had pole in the Nurburgring and then in the race it was not the fastest car, so hopefully tomorrow we can do a good race like we did in the Nurburgring. We started sixth there and here we are third so we are in a good position.
Q: And how much of a worry still is McLaren?
FA: They are still a worry. Obviously, they were very fast this morning and yesterday and I think they will be really, really strong in race conditions. But we dont know what fuel load they have and we have to go with our race, take the maximum advantage we can have from third position compared to them, and push always in the race.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Peter Windsor F1 Racing) Michael, Jenson described it as a low grip lap and we know it is better to be low downforce here. Taking those two factors into consideration, can we say that Bridgestone have cracked this problem of one-lap performance versus race pace? Has there been a breakthrough on the tyre side?
MS: Put it this way, I think it is a combination of things. If you look at the pace the competitor is able to do very consistently it looks like they brought a tyre that is a bit harder and more consistent rather than to have the one lap and then lose out in the race. We have moved up our game, definitely, for the one lap situation but we still have our consistency so it is from both sides.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia Efe) Fernando, would this result be okay for you tomorrow in the race or are you heading for something more?
FA: Always when you start the race you are thinking of winning the race. Here, particularly, we have good options because the car has been very good all weekend and I dont have any reason to not think of the victory tomorrow. Obviously the strategies will be important, the start, the race pace, the tyres at the end of the race, the brakes, there are many things that you have to look after and obviously we will approach tomorrows race thinking of the victory.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Jenson, do you feel your team has been a little persecuted this year over the situation with the fuel tank and do you feel there is still time to make an impact on the championship this year?
JB: The first one is difficult to answer, but I can only say it has been a difficult season for us, probably the toughest for the team for many reasons. The second question, we dont have a chance in the championship, of winning the championship, anyway. Our aim is to go out and hopefully fight for wins. Hopefully we are ready for it, but I wasnt expecting to come here fighting for wins at all. But maybe we are better than I actually thought originally.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport News) You have eight races in 11 week ends. That must require a different mental and maybe physical approach than having a race, time to go testing and then maybe a few days off then a race two weeks later. So, how is that different compared to the normal schedule?
JB: I dont find it too bad. It is actually nice for us as a team to get out there racing as much as we can. The good thing is we have got two races this side of the pond, which is good, one week after the other, so we are not travelling backwards and forwards to races. Then we go back to Europe and we are racing in France and England, which again are very close to each other, so it is not an issue. As long as we get enough of a break in August and we can go on holiday and enjoy ourselves a bit its fine.
Q: (Pierre Durocher - Le Journal de Montreal) I have a tough question for you Jenson. People will look at the result today and say the only reason you are fast is because you dont have much gas (fuel) in the tank. What would you say to people who think you were just running light today and do not think you have the fastest car?
JB: We have to wait and see tomorrow. We base our strategy not just on qualifying but on the race and we think we have the best possible strategy for us this weekend. Thats all I can say.
Q: (Bill Beacon The Canadian Press) Michael, you were saying you feel more confident now than at any point in the season. What has given you that confidence?
MS: Basically our lap times, the ones we have been doing, not the ones of yesterday but the ones of today.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Michael, Jenson just said that BAR are not in with a chance of the championship now, but do you think Ferrari and yourself still have a good chance to fight for the world championship?
MS: I wouldnt call it good, but it is mathematically still possible and as long as that is the case there is no reason to give up.