Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m19.882s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren), 1m20.779s; 3rd Jarno Trulli (Toyota), 1m20.839s.
Q: Michael, that was a fabulous lap, congratulations on the return of Ferrari and that middle sector, half a second quicker than anyone.
Michael Schumacher: It was a good lap. We obviously feel very delighted after a suffering period where not very much seemed to work in our favour, and all weekend long we have been very competitive and that is the result. A big complement to Bridgestone, they have had to suffer a lot this year and this shows the effort they have been putting in.
Q: What were your expectations coming here and what are your explanations for the speed you have now?
MS: It is a little bit of a surprise to us, honestly, as it has been a big surprise to be as slow as we have been recently. We have obviously changed the tyres substantially and it seems to pay off. We might have to find out if it is just a combination of many things, where this circuit suits the car and the tyres and everything or if that is a general trend. That is to be established, but I am pretty confident. There was no reason not to believe in Ferraris return, in a way, and it is a great result for all of us, it gives a lot of motivation to everyone, a lot of pleasure to everyone. It was too much time ago.
Q: And obviously a great place to start what will be a long, hot race.
MS: Yes, honestly a lot of people put a lot of emphasis on the start position but I dont do as much as it is important to be on the right side of the circuit, rather than to be on right side, because that could not work in the race. Otherwise the strategy is more important than your grid position and hopefully we have the right one.
Q: Juan Pablo, you have a new helmet, obviously in Colombian colours, not quite the lap you expected but a good one nonetheless.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Well, I went into the first corner and had a bit of a moment there so I decided to just do a clean lap. I had a time difference to what I was doing before and I knew that it wasnt a problem. I just paced myself and got a good lap in. Once I passed the first corner I knew I wasnt going to beat Michael and then it was more get to the end, to get to the front and we did. I think we are in a good position, I think from the long runs we have seen we should be stronger than Ferrari so it should be good.
Q: And what about Michaels comments about being on the right side of the grid, you are on the slippery side there?
JPM: Our starts are pretty good so if we get off the line, good, if we dont we dont. I would rather be second than third, obviously, but it is nice to be at the front.
Q: And very tough conditions expected for tomorrows race.
JPM: Yes, it is going to be hot, it is going to be hard on the car, the tyres, and first of all we need to try to get to the end and see where we stand.
Q: Jarno, a great lap from where you went out in qualifying, you were seventh out, the track was a lot slower then, and here you are, top three for the sixth time this season.
Jarno Trulli: Well, I am delighted about my lap and my qualifying considering I started very early in the session so the track was improving quite a lot. You also have to consider that this morning I missed quite a bit of practice, I didnt use the new tyres so I didnt know much about my car and the balance. It was a bit of a guess but I think I have done a pretty good lap. It is very good. Disappointing, because starting a bit later we could probably have fought for pole position, but anyway I am happy with the outcome of this qualifying.
Q: Very closely matched between you and Kimi Räikkönen, who was out first today, and equally Toyota have looked very strong all weekend.
JT: Yeah, our car has been looking pretty good over the weekend, especially over one lap on new tyres, but we will see tomorrow during the race with our strategy and our pace. But so far it has been pretty good.
Q: Michael, is this the beginning of the big Ferrari return for the rest of the season?
MS: From our point of view we hope so. It is one step in the right direction. Tomorrow is a long race, we obviously want to do well in the race to confirm all the hard work and good work we have been doing so far and then we will see how we go from there.
Q: Michael, you mentioned you were a little surprised by that.
MS: I have been surprised by the gap in the end. It wasnt expecting to be this big and I am not surprised that we were able to fight for pole position but as I said I expected it to be a bit tighter. Obviously, one was out of the game, because Kimi had to go early so he was not in best shape.
Q: You mentioned you made changes. Were they any since last weekend?
MS: Obviously we have a new tyre here, and that is the main factor. The car is the same as last weekend.
Q: Sometimes this has been regarded as something of a Bridgestone circuit.
MS: Yeah, two years ago we were lapped, you are right!
Q: Maybe not two years ago then, but other times it has been.
MS: I mean, the point is that if it goes well it goes well or it goes completely the other way because, if certain things are not working well, you work very hard but nothing comes around.
Q: Were you encouraged yesterday already?
MS: Yes. For Rubens results we saw that not only we had a good one lap but we had good consistency and even this morning again we made a good improvement to the car in handling and I am pretty happy.
Q: What about the heat, is that a bit of a worry?
MS: No. Malaysia was probably worse in that respect.
Q: Juan Pablo, have you been surprised at Ferraris pace?
JPM: Yes. It was quite a bit quicker than we expected. My lap wasnt a great lap but it was good enough for second really. I made a mistake in the first corner and from there on, the car started to slide a bit and I thought just get a clean lap, get it to the end. I got a time difference on the display and I knew what I needed to do and thats what I tried to achieve and it worked.
Q: You have had every right to believe that youve had the fastest car at the last few races; are you willing to give up that title?
JPM: Well, there is a Constructors championship which we think we can clearly win. I think the other one may be a bit harder but hey, anything can happen. My main goal in the last few races is to try to win as many as possible and I think for tomorrow we have the car to win here. Michaels pace was extremely quick and we think he will probably be a bit light on fuel from the lap he did. We will see tomorrow. If hes not, then hes got a good pace to win but I think from what weve seen in practice we should be able to be up there.
Q: Interesting situation with both Kimi and Fernando behind you.
JPM: Yes, it is interesting but I have to try to take points away from Kimi as well as Fernando, so we will see.
Q: Jarno, you stopped out on the circuit this morning, thats not going to penalise your grid position, so I understand. Would you just confirm that?
JT: Yes, I had a hydraulic problem so unfortunately I lost most of the most important session. I didnt use the new tyres so I went out for qualifying without knowing much about track conditions and car balance. I had to guess a little bit but I think I guessed pretty well.
Q: In fact you have been pretty much up with the McLarens all weekend anyway, havent you?
JT: Well, I would say that our speed hasnt been too bad this weekend, we have always been quite competitive, especially over one lap.
Q: And you will be starting from the clean side of the grid.
JT: Yes, thats another good point which I hope I can use for the start and for the first corner. It will be very important to get away safely after the first corner in order to do a good race and in order to score some points.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Michael, congratulations. I believe you said that to fight for the World Championship didnt make any sense any more this year. Could your goal now be the record of pole positions, because thats one of the few ones you dont have yet and now youre just one away from Sennas record?
MS: Well, it is the same procedure as always because this is not really what drives me. It is a nice side-effect to have that, but if it happens it happens, if not, not. Its more important to win a championship or a race.
Q: (Juha Päätalo Financial Times Germany) Michael, when was the point this weekend when you realised you would have a chance to fight for the pole here?
MS: Basically seeing the lap times and comparing our lap times against the other guys. On Friday we had some indication but it was clearer today.
Q: (Philippe Joubin LEquipe) Michael and Jarno, will you be at the meeting with Mr Mosley. What do you expect from this meeting?
MS: To have a good conversation and clarify certain points which we think we want to raise.
Q: (Philippe Joubin LEquipe) But which points exactly?
MS: We invite you and then you can find out.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Question for Juan Pablo. You said you were in a good position but what would be the best thing to happen for you to win tomorrow?
JPM: I think we are on a good strategy with the car and the million dollar question is what everybody else does. I think from where we are we have a very good chance of winning the race. I think its a matter of well see what happens at the start. Im on the dirty side but I think our start performance is good enough to at least keep my place. That is my goal, to keep up my place and keep up with Michael then we will probably be running longer than him.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, in the last Grand Prix in Germany, you had problems with your tyres at the end of the race. Do you have any indication that you have tyres to finish the race in good condition?
MS: Yes, obviously. We want to finish the race competitively. It didnt work out in Hockenheim but I think neither of the solutions we had available in Hockenheim worked out, neither Rubens nor I were particularly great at any stage. But it is different this weekend, very different.
Q: (Peter Farkas Auto Motor) To all the drivers, obviously theyve laid that green artificial grass or whatever you call it on the outside of the corners near the kerbs and it seems to be very slippery, especially at turn four. Do you think it is dangerous?
MS: No, it is what we want. It is better than grass, gravel or whatever. This is at least pretty consistent, flat, you can control the car. Its the best solution we have found. We are happy to listen to any further good suggestions you may have but we havent found anything better.
Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber Agencia EFE) Michael, this used to be business as usual for you in the years before, but how would you describe this moment. Is this the happiest moment of the season for you or was it at Indianapolis?
MS: No, this is a happier situation than we had, honestly, yes. Because to be on pole is one thing, to do it with such a time margin to the others is another thing, to be very optimistic concerning the race is a third item, so it all makes us very happy, but on the other side its just qualifying. So the race is still to be done.
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) To all the drivers, how do you like the new suggestions for qualifying next year?
JPM: I would rather have four laps.
JT: Most of the drivers agree that it would be nice to have more than one lap in qualifying with no fuel, but it is not up to the drivers probably to decide what is the best and we will try to find a compromise in order to make a good show and to make everyone happy, the drivers, teams and especially the spectators.
MS: The main thing I keep saying is that there will not be any fix which will satisfy everyone. Unfortunately we all have different opinions and one likes one way, and the other one likes another way, spectators, drivers, team owners, whoever. The worst thing we can do is to keep on changing. Thats the only thing I can say about that.
Q: Will you be mentioning your preference to Max in your conversations?
MS: There is no point going into details of what we want to discuss or what we dont want to discuss.
JT: We will discuss safety, thats what it is all about.
Q: (Dusko Dragic - Ekipa) What about the GPDA letting the fans decide about qualifying? Has the GPDA had something to say about it, letting the fans decide which qualifying system is going to be in use next year?
MS: I think the GPDA is pretty happy as long as things are safe. Thats the main concern of the GPDA. Beyond that, if we have a good point I feel we will always be listened to and we have had many good points in the past and good points will be suggested and the other ones not.
Q: (Livio Oricchio O Estado de Sao Paulo) Considering youre talking about safety, are you happy with the run-off area at turn 12 here?
MS: Yeah, I think it is a pretty good job, actually. They have six rows of tyres, two rows with a gap. It should be working quite well, by far better than anything we have in Monaco anyway.