Post-race press conference - USA 19 Jun 2005
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 2nd Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari); 3rd Tiago Monteiro (Jordan).
Q: Michael, obviously a difficult day, none of the Michelin runners competing after that first lap, after the formation lap, but nonetheless, you were out there, you were racing and it looked pretty close between you and Rubens as you came out from your second pit stop.
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, very close, I would say. It was quite a race the two of us had going. It was only the two of us and the team said lets go and have fun and thats what we had between the two of us. Obviously it was a bit of a strange Grand Prix, not the right way to win my first one this year but one of these out of 84 is not a big disaster.
Q: We saw some debris being thrown on the track unfortunately, what were the track conditions like? We saw your left rear tyre being examined quite closely in the first pit stop.
MS: It was mainly bottles, a bit of beer, as far as I could smell, in the first corner, but conditions were OK, no problem.
Q: Can you describe your emotions as the start approached. You presumably knew what the Michelin drivers were going to do, or suspected what they were going to do. What was going on inside your head?
MS: We didnt know exactly what they were going to do. We heard certain things, but we were simply concentrating on ourselves, honestly.
Q: And a good team performance, reliability was there and youve won a Grand Prix again, youve broken that second longest losing streak youve had since 93.
MS: Yeah, but, well. Obviously with Rubens it was a close fight, but other than that, it was a bit of an odd Grand Prix.
Q: Rubens, helping Ferrari to their fourth one-two in six years here at Indianapolis. Talk us through that moment from your point of view, as Michael came out from his second pit stop?
Rubens Barrichello: It was very close. I managed to open up the gap to 3.1s/3.2s and I thought I had it covered. I had a good out lap but all of a sudden I saw him coming and obviously I had to try to keep in front. But then I couldnt make the corner, basically, and I went straight through. A sad race, to be very honest, to see all the cars going into the pits you know, in a way, you feel like going into the pits as well.
It wasnt our problem, people probably wont understand that because they seem to be sad you know, there were a lot of people out there still watching us but they will think that we had the problem, but obviously Bridgestone has been working very hard, they brought the right tyre here and we were feeling very good. I think that we could have done really well, even better, if they were on the race track but they were not, so sad race. I was pushing like hell and I was pushing Michael. Unfortunately I couldnt have the right strategy at that time, but I had a good race and a sad race.
Q: Any problems during your race in terms of track conditions, debris on the circuit?
RB: Yeah, I could see the bits flying as well. If I had had a microphone at that time I would have quite rightly explained the situation to the guys. Its just sad because weve, as Ferrari, have been in trouble here in the past and people didnt understand that and all of a sudden it seemed that we were the problem, but quite the opposite.
Q: Tiago, congratulations, Jordans first podium since they won the Brazilian Grand Prix, and now the first Portuguese ever driver on the podium as well. Your emotions?
Tiago Monteiro: Obviously, mixed feelings. I cant be as sad as the others because anyway, even if it was a weird race, strange race, you had to finish, you had to be there. Like them, I had a battle with my teammate, a hard fight at the beginning and then I managed to make a gap between us. I wasnt joking, no one on the track was kidding around, there were just less cars. I didnt know what to think, it was a very weird situation but Im so happy, so happy for myself, for the team. You should have seen their faces. Even if it was a weird situation it was still a podium. Im so excited and happy to be here. Again, its my first year and Ive finished nine races in a row including a podium. Its just great. I know its weird conditions but still, no one is going to take that away from me and I shall thank everyone who did a great job so far - amazing.
Q: And your race? Relatively trouble-free from your point of view?
TM: Yes. I was heavier than my teammate right from the beginning so I knew that even if he was going to follow me closely in the pits we could have done something but I managed to put in a gap pretty early and just kept focused, I pushed, I pushed hard. I was quicker than my qualifying time. Bridgestone did an amazing job with the tyres, they are getting better and better, no problems compared to Michelin obviously, but also in race pace they are getting amazingly better so this is another good point. Of course I saw the glasses and cups and stuff. In a way I can understand the public but it could be dangerous for us. I must say it was a weird Grand Prix but Im so excited.
Q: Michael, back to you, you and Ferrari have huge support here in the United States. A few words for the Formula One race fans here in America.
MS: Obviously I would have wished to fight this race under normal circumstances. As you say, there were a lot of supporters here; we have been winning here three times so far. This is victory number four. I think we had a very good car this weekend, which was strongish in qualifying, but very strong in race conditions. I think we had a very fair chance anyway to fight for the victory today, but yeah, what is good is that so many supporters stayed to support us until the end and wanted to see how this very unique Grand Prix would finish.
Q: Michael, what are your emotions today?
MS: Naturally very mixed. It was very strange to see everyone going into the pits. Never the less, after that, Rubens and myself had a race going. I think we had a very good car today to fight for the victory anyway. We were very strong in free practice, always pretty happy on fuel and the tyre and car was looking very reasonable. So it is sad, particularly for all the supporters, and there were very many towards the end, that we were not able to fight that victory under normal circumstances. America has always been a special Grand Prix for us, in a way. Certainly today it was a very unique Grand Prix, but to be frank it is not in our hands. There is nothing we could have done. Our tyres, we have worked very hard. We have left at home tyres with better performance but less durability because we knew what kind of stress the tyres would be under here so I dont know what was their problem but this was not our problem and I hope that everyone understands that there was nothing from our side to do in that respect.
Q: Do you think you were treated a little unfairly by the fans, the people who stayed, because they threw things on the track and there was a lot of noise?
MS: I think it was a minority, honestly. If you look even at the podium, then yes, there were people booing, but there were a lot more yelling. A lot of Ferrari supporters were there. I guess some others had left before but there were still a lot of supporters there happy with what we did. A couple of bottles were on the circuit but it wasnt a bad situation, honestly.
Q: Do you understand the actions of the other teams?
MS: I have not the details of it, no. There must have been a severe reason that they have taken that action, but I dont have the details.
Q: And during the race itself, how did you lose the race to Rubens?
MS: We had a long pit stop to make sure the tyres were okay. Obviously, in the situation we had been it was comfortable to do that and for whatever reason my stop took quite a bit longer than Rubens one and I found myself leading by whatever seconds, I found myself three or whatever seconds behind, which meant it would be very difficult, because Rubens was pushing very hard to maintain the lead and I wanted to make sure to use the opportunity and close up the gap as much as possible.
Q: It was pretty close between you.
MS: Very close
Q: But there was no contact there?
MS: No, no contact. Both of us make sure we race up to the limit but try to avoid contact.
Q: Rubens, what did you think about it?
RB: Nothing more. I am disappointed, obviously, because I pushed quite a lot and could maintain the pace and open the gap by 0.1 or 0.2 per lap so that at 3.1 I thought I had it covered. I had a tremendous out lap and obviously when I saw he was already on the inside and he was going to be very close. I tried what I could and I am going to sleep very well tonight because I have tried. It is sad, a sad day. I am disappointed from my side, because I wish I could have the ten points, and sad because to see all the cars come into the pits, you know. Sure, they must have some big reasons for that, but it was a big public hearing and as Formula One we dont look very, very good already in the US so it is going to be even worse.
This time there is nothing Ferrari could have done. We are working so hard with Bridgestone to make that pace come back and I think we could have won the race even if the others had been there. Since Friday we showed the pace, we still have our problems in qualifying, but having said that I think we had the quickest car out there. I had a quicker car than Michael at the beginning but there was no way by and when I saw my chance of being in front I could only push because I knew he was coming into the pits later than I did.
Q: Just 13 laps from the end you were right on his tail and then all of a sudden the gap was 2.5 seconds. Was that just you saying enough is enough?
RB: I guess you have to think that for the Ferrari team it would have been very sad to see something going on. I mean, I dont know if I am happy or not, but I had to give up.
Q: Tiago, you were being pushed early on.
TM: Yeah, the first few laps, five or six laps, it was Albers and Narain behind, but you are getting the grip and everything, see how the car is, and as soon as I felt comfortable I started to push a bit more and concentrate. The fact that there were not a lot of people doesnt make a lot of difference for us at the back. You need to be there, so you still have to concentrate and push as hard as you can. I am still fighting with Narain and with Albers, so concentrate, dont make mistakes, and push as hard as you can for a long, long race. It is sad what happened, it is a mixed feeling day, but Bridgestone did a great job, they have good tyres, like for Ferrari, their race pace is getting better and better, and it was just an amazing day for us. I need to enjoy the day, thank the whole team, they did an amazing job and it was a great feeling to see their faces, their pleasure and happiness, so I thank them all for giving me such a reliable car. Nine races in a row, nine finishes, I am over the moon.
Q: The gap between Rubens and yourself remained pretty much one minute for a very long time, then just at the end, the last nine laps, it suddenly went up. Was that just you easing up?
TM: Yeah, the team told me I was 30 seconds ahead of Narain and obviously there was no need to take much risk, so I was a second slower, basically, and when I saw them coming I wouldnt risk anything like in the Nürburgring to get a penalty or whatever, just back off easy, let them go, so you lose a lot of time.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bruce Martin - National Speedsport News) Is there a concern that the events of the day may ultimately be the end of this event in the United States?
MS: No, I dont think so. It is a strange one, a very unique one. But in the end we have had good ones, we have had a difficult one, and we will have good ones again.
RB: I hope not. I love to come here, I love to show my pace here. There are two races at this time of year that are fantastic for the public and for overtaking, Canada and this one. I really wish we could come here always. When I was a boy I could see the Dallas Grand Prix, the Detroit Grand Prix, and when I came in there was no US Grand Prix and it was very sad. All of a sudden they had this one, and we had problems, but I hope there is no problem.
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) Michael, I mean, it is not your fault, but with the farcical spectacle you have had to endure, do you think this is Formula Ones darkest day? How must this look to the rest of the world?
MS: I think we have had much darker days, honestly, you remember 1994.
Q: (Mark Fogarty - Auto Action) I am leaving aside that, you know.
MS: This is a sporting situation with some mechanical situation, a mixture, which makes it strange, but it is obviously better that the teams make a decision to go safe than sorry and that means it is only six cars. Just stick to what it is.
Q: (Curt Cavin Indianapolis Star) As a sportsman, surely this must be the most hollow of victories?
MS: I have won 84 races. I can afford to have one strange one.
Q: You only call it strange? You are such a strong competitor, to be driving around by yourselves.
MS: I had a race going with Rubens and, as I said, we had a car to win here anyway today. I am sorry the other guys did not show up and I have nothing more to add.
Q: (Curt Cavin - Indianapolis Star) I understand that you did not make the decision but can you tell my why Ferrari was not in favour of having a chicane put in at the last minute?
MS: I tell you one story, not so long ago. In Monza we had the death of a marshal and all of us drivers agreed we would want yellow flags for the first two chicanes, and there was no less than two or three team owners that told their drivers you will not respect the yellow flag, just ignore what you have said or not said, we want you to race and we force you to race and it is the same people who have been on the other side today. So, Formula One is a tough business, we are working very hard and as I mentioned before we had a tyre that was quicker but we didnt use it because we knew what was going to face us here. I am not saying the others purposefully chose something wrong, but whatever it is, it is their problem, not our problem. I dont think you can ask the people who are not responsible for it to take the responsibility.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speed Sport news) What does Formula One need to do to restore its image in the United States?
MS: Just keep on racing properly, and we will do that. Everyone learned from what happened today and everyone will make sure this doesnt happen (again) because the penalty is very big to everyone, the fans, the teams who didnt race, and nobody liked that.
TM: As Michael said, if you race again here you can show again how things should not be a problem. People have to understand that there are sometimes mess-ups. This was one of them, but I think in the future at least this kind of problem will not happen again. I am sure there will be others, but this one will be sorted and we will have great races again in the future.
RB: For something like that not to happen you need to change the rules, only, because then you are not going to face a tyre that last the whole race. But I dont know if you can blame the rules or blame Michelin, it is very difficult because I am on Bridgestone tyres and I dont know what their problems are. I have been hearing something like having less testing, but having the whole Friday, three hours in the morning, three in the afternoon, and bring four different types of tyres on the side. Less testing and more testing on a Friday would probably have helped the Grand Prix to go well. So, something like that.
Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) To what extent were you aware on the starting grid what the Michelin teams were going to do?
RB: The toughest thing was that after the parade lap I went to rest, like we normally can, woke up thinking okay, someone is going to tell me something and there was nothing, there was really nothing. I came with my car on the grid and there was really nothing. It was unbelievable because for a minute it looked like the cars were not coming out at all. Then they positioned their cars and the public got excited and everything and all of a sudden they pulled into the pits. To be honest, I had been told they would take part in the start then sometime after that it would stop, so I was surprised when they came into the pits.
MS: There was very little information, yes.
TM: Like Rubens, I thought they would do a few laps then stop.
Q: (Bruce Martin - National Speedsport News) Michael, you must have mixed emotions because it was a situation with Ralf, his tyre failure on Friday, that kind of started all this. Obviously, safety is a major concern with you, so the fact something like that happened to your brother, what was going through your mind?
MS: What I looked after coming in from my run Ralf was out of the car. I saw his car was damaged but I hadnt seen what happened. Afterwards I saw what happened, but knowing he was out of the car and talking to the doctor made me quite relaxed. But it actually started with Ricardo Zonta, who had a similar failure just in a different place, and then afterwards they figured out that plenty of teams and cars had the start of that failure.
Q: Michael and Rubens, I only want to know if it's true that this morning you agreed with the other drivers that a chicane was needed.
MS: No, we didn't agree on anything like this. It is not our position to agree, it's the FIA's position to agree on this, not us.
RB: I mean, if I had changed one of the corners in Bahrain, my tire would have finished, it wouldn't be in such a problem and I probably would have finished even on the podium. So why would we have to agree to that? People think, okay, you put in a chicane, but we haven't tested with that chicane so that could have been even more dangerous. If you take a different line and people spin to the other side, crash into the side wall, how can we do it? It's silly.
Q: Michael and Rubens, after what happened today, do you think that could be better for Formula One it would be only one tire and factory supplier?
MS: Obviously we have the wrong people here to talk to. Maybe you should talk to the teams, to Max, check with them.
RB: I have nothing further.
Q: (Joe Saward F1 Grand Prix Special) Can I ask all three of you, if your tyre manufacturer said to you that your tire couldn't make it more than ten laps, would you race?
MS: No, there's no point.
TM: No, you can't take the risk and probably anyway your team owners wouldn't let you race anyway. It's a big responsibility.
RB: There was only one solution. If the problem was on 13, just come into the pits every lap.
RB: And then they would finish seventh and eighth.
MS: Honestly I understood from talking to one of the drivers that despite turn 13, they would have had the problem anyway, with chicane or without chicane.
Q: (Dieter Rencken The Citizen) Michael, as chairman of the GPDA, could you tell me where the organization stands on this matter and where its responsibilities start and stop in terms of this sort of dangerous situation?
MS: We're sort of more looking into circuit safety. In this kind of situation, put it this way, there are certain drivers that don't have the power to take decisions, so there is no point in forcing somebody or trying something. It's not the region we would consider to talk about. We have regions where it concerns all of us where we quite clearly don't have any competition influence when we can get active and when we do get active.
Q: (Bruce Martin National Speedsport News) If the future of this event can be saved, do you see that there needs to be a permanent modification of this racecourse?
MS: We have been here now how many years? Six. And we have now this problem? I'm pretty sure everybody will be much better prepared next year. So I don't see any reason why the circuit should be changed. We can adapt everything to fit the circuit.
Q: (Griff Allen ESPN) Is there any way that the event could have worked with an alternate tyre brought in by the other brand?
MS: I don't know, maybe ask the others.
TM: It's against the rules.
MS: First of all, it is against the rules, you have to ask the FIA, and second, I don't know.
Q: (Joe Saward F1 Grand Prix Special) Do you think that the spectators should get their money back today?
MS: Why don't you talk to Bernie?
Q: (Bruce Martin National Speedsport News) Also, Michael and Rubens, obviously you did not celebrate the victory up on the podium in your normal fashion. You both had rather solemn looks on your faces, much like now. I'm sure the reason is obvious, but from your point of view why did you not really see this as a victory to really celebrate?
MS: Because of everything we have said so far. I have nothing to add.
RB: It was fifty percent for that and 50 percent because I was disappointed to not have won the race, sure.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Tiago, did you ever think you would be standing on the podium this season when you signed for Jordan this year?
TM: Are you kidding? No, of course not. We don't have a competitive car for that. I'm a rookie and I'm learning a lot every race. It's impossible. Just situations like this or a big storm or something like that. We are always hoping for a crazy race to manage to get to the points, you know, rain, stuff like that, but I would never imagine a situation like this. Again, it is a sad race, it's a shame what happened but I'm happy and I'm happy for the team and I'm really excited myself. You know, I was there and you have to be there in those situations.