FIA post-qualifying press conference - Japan 07 Oct 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m29.599s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m29.711s; 3rd Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), 1m29.989s.
Q: Felipe, what a fantastic circuit on which to take your second pole position.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, its really a fantastic circuit. I really enjoy driving here. I managed to do a good lap and I think we need to talk a lot about the tyres and the car, which is behaving very, very well for the moment. Its just very nice to be here again. Im really happy to be here.
Q: Talking about that package, the Ferrari - Bridgestone is obviously very very strong, and Bridgestone tyres looking quick too.
FM: Yes, for sure, if you see we are always leading in the dry and here we are, all three of us on Bridgestone tyres so I have to say that we are looking forward to being really strong here and they are not just for qualifying but also for race pace, so really looking forward to the race.
Q: And how was the qualifying lap from your point of view, did it feel like a pole lap inside the car?
FM: Well, you never know whats going on with the others. You just need to push as hard as you can, to try to do the best lap you can. It should be a good lap, without mistakes, driving on the limit and I just managed to do a great lap, so thats really fantastic and Im pretty sure we can be that strong in the race.
Q: And a little bit of a race with Michael ahead of the two Renaults at the beginning of Q3 there. You had Fernando behind you, on the radio a little bit saying he wanted to go a little bit quicker.
FM: Yeah, for sure it was just the out lap, the first lap, he was behind me but then I pulled away, so thats qualifying. Its always been a little bit like that this year.
Q: Michael, its been a slightly disruptive weekend with the rain yesterday and the learning curve we had today with the circuit, but you must be very pleased with the way things are going.
Michael Schumacher: Absolutely. Its been a great weekend so far for us, except the Friday and the weather conditions, not that competitive, but no surprise. The weekend was supposed to be dry from today onwards and tomorrow, so we were very confident in that area. We see from the Bridgestone side were very strong, not only us but the Toyotas are very quick too. So thats a very good position for us, considering the race, considering the championship. Lets see what we can get out of it tomorrow.
Q: Quite difficult conditions; as Q3 developed the cloud came in, a little bit of rain, a lot of wind.
MS: Yeah, indeed. Being the first car out, obviously you have to judge the situation and not overdo it because it was difficult at the end when I went in for my last set of tyres, it seemed to increase a little bit, so you take this extra precaution to start with, but I felt that I really didnt need it, not that I lost time because of it, because I pushed pretty hard. Nevertheless, were looking strong, were on the first row, we have the Renaults on the third row, so thats a very good starting base for tomorrows race.
Q: A few words about your team-mates pole lap; was that a lap time you could have done, was it there for you to do, did you make any mistakes?
MS: Not really, no. I dont think so. Weve been pretty close all weekend together. I managed a very good lap time in Q2, I dont know what happened there to Felipe, but overall were within a few tenths and maybe being the first car out, having a little bit more drizzle because everybodys in at that time, so the track is clear, it hasnt been run on, Im coming out as the first car at that moment, the conditions are a little bit different, but nevertheless Im pretty happy where I am, hes done a great job. Were not fighting that much against each other, were working together and therefore Im happy its him.
Q: Well done, Ralf, Toyotas first time in the top three this year; great for you on a circuit you love: pole last year and now third in 2006.
Ralf Schumacher: It really was a great achievement for the whole team. After the last two races, we really needed to show where we are. We knew from the race before from the lap time point of view that we were there but we really needed to show that and today, with Bridgestone tyres, its pretty clear I think. We were really able to show that our package is a good car.
Q: What is the limiting factor for Toyota now? Obviously the car has got better as the season has progressed, where are you at in terms of competitiveness?
RS: Its difficult to tell, we really have to wait and see tomorrow. I have always said that if we have a good weekend and the tyre is the right one then we are definitely heading for a podium but its certainly difficult as long as we have two Ferraris there so there is only one position left but we will try and catch them.
Q: And a word about Suzuka, a circuit youve always loved.
RS: Yeah, to some extent its a shame its the last race, but then again Im looking forward to another challenge next year. Its true, Ive raced here for 12 years, including Formula Nippon and it has always been good for me.
Q: Felipe, tell us about the start tomorrow, an interesting first corner here, a downhill grid, then turn one, a tightening first corner. Your thoughts about where you are on the grid and Michael next to you.
FM: Yeah, for sure we need to think about the whole race. For sure the start is very important. You can lose positions, you can gain positions but we need to think about the whole race and for sure, Im really open to help Ferrari in winning both championships. We are here for that, everything is open and Im really motivated to celebrate both championships at the end of the year, so Im really working hard to achieve that.
Q: Yesterday it was wet, Felipe, presumably you had to do most of your set-up this morning. Have you suffered a little bit from lack of time? Of course, its been the same for everyone
FM: Yeah, for sure, for everybody its the same. But even if it was wet yesterday, we managed to do a couple of laps with dry tyres. We had a small idea how to take the right direction for the race and this morning we had even better other ideas which was enough time to prepare the car for qualifying so I think we did a good job. The set-up is really good on my car and we can see from all three of us here that the tyres are working in a fantastic way.
Q: How did you find the track conditions during qualifying and particularly the wind as well, how did that affect things?
FM: Yeah, it was pretty inconsistent. The wind was very strong sometimes. You came to a corner and you had some oversteer, and the next lap you dont have this amount of oversteer, so its really inconsistent but its the same for everybody. So we need to try to do the best without mistakes and thats what I did. I managed to do a very very good lap, without a single mistake and managed to get on pole position, so Im very happy for that.
Q: Obviously pole position and a Ferrari front row, but is pole the best place to help Michael tomorrow?
FM: I think for sure if you have both cars on the front row its always important, so were really motivated to try my best to help the team for the championship, to help Michael and thats really important for us. And definitely, Im really looking forward to getting back my third place in the championship. I think we have a big chance, a big opportunity here and were really looking forward to achieving that.
Q: Michael, second on the grid, down the inside into the first corner thats an interesting thought
MS: Yes, thats true, but luckily the Renaults are in the third row, so that should last and I hope we have enough grip and performance to at least keep our positions.
Q: You have been very quick all weekend. This mornings lap was something like three seconds faster than the previous fastest lap ever what is it like driving around this circuit? And the car looks fantastic...
MS: Well, last year we did 31.5, Kimi, quickest in the race, and I did a 30.6 and, generally, yes, we are a lot quicker now and in Q2, I obviously did a 28.9, which is obviously a lot quicker and that is how the car feels. I mean, it is great fun to drive these cars. They have so much grip and fly through the esses. It is beautiful and I really love that and it is funny if you think we run on V8 engines. I mean!
Q: Yes it looked fantastic. What is 130R like now?
MS: Now, it is pretty straightforward and it is no big deal.
Q: And obviously you are pleased to see the Toyotas between the Ferraris and the Renaults?
MS: Yes, absolutely I am pleased to see for that factor, but even for Bridgestone to prove how good a work (job) they have done. That is the best proof. I mean for us being there, it doesnt sometimes prove it, but for Toyota to jump (into) this position shows that obviously they have a good car, but they need the tyre to work and that seems to work together here.
Q: Ralf, are the tactics clear here do you think? Yesterday, Mr Tomita sat here and said last year was a bit of a mistake, three stops
RS: The tactic is pretty straightforward. We had our reasons last year to do it and it did not work out - simply, but that was last year.
Q: The other thing that was said, or that John Howett said, was that Toyota have the third best package, but it could be even better this weekend?
RS: Well, Ive been telling that story for a while and always Ive been asked back well when do you show it? and I think here on a circuit like that you have to have a good car to be able to do it, certainly with the right package and the right tyre and yes we proved. We had indications in the races before Monza, like Turkey and Hungary, we were clearly there and in the last race in the dry conditions we had some pretty good lap times and we just needed to get it right which we did today and hopefully achieve tomorrow.
Q: And the reliability?
RS: Well, its Toyota. It shouldnt be a problem.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Sal Zanca - AP) Michael, what is more important having your team-mate ahead of you or having Fernando behind you?
MS: The second... The second point.
Q: (Dom Taylor F1 Racing) Michael you have achieved so much in Formula One and inevitably that has made you a role model to millions of kids around the world, yet all of this has been achieved with tobacco sponsorship on your overalls and on your cars. I wondered if you are comfortable with that association?
MS: Yes, I am honestly, because I think we are all humans and we all have our minds and opinions and, if you want, you find those things - with advertising and without advertising - and the more you forbid things, sometimes it gets more attractive. So, you can have a mixed opinion about it and I am completely relaxed. In particular, if you think and see what Philip Morris by themselves are doing to educate people, and tell them what is the consequence, or what might be the consequence. I think, they do a good job in that and then it is up to everybody of us to do things or not to do things.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Michael you have always told us how much you love this track. Sadly, none of us are coming back next year, but maybe one more time you can tell us what is so special about this track, please?
MS: It is the layout. It is the characteristic of this track, the corner combination, particularly in the first sector, 130R is now not such a corner anymore, but particularly the first sector makes it worthwhile, Spoon as well, double-kink, a lot of high speed, a lot of technicality, a lot of difficulty for us, so a big challenge.
Q: (Mathias Brunner Motorsport Aktuell) Felipe, if we agree that this is basically the best track of the year, do you think this pole is worth more for you than the one in Turkey?
FM: Both. Both are very important. For sure, the first one is something special. You know the second one is also special, but the first one maybe a little bit more. But due to these two tracks, which I really like, then it is very challenging for the drivers as well and it is very good to be pole on this track.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi La Gazzetta dello Sport) Michael, looking at what happened in Turkey with the first pit stop, dont you think it would be better to start in pole?
MS: I dont think it matters what happened in Turkey. I think in general it is better to start from pole. That is absolutely right. But I have a quick team-mate next to me and he did a very good job and I am second with very close margins and I am pretty happy about that. I am relaxed. The point is that we work together and we have to concentrate on where are the Renaults and they are in a good position at the moment.
Q: (Dan Knutson National Speedsport News) Ralf, your job is to win the race for Toyota, but you dont want to obstruct the championship battle. What happens if you are side by side with Michael in turn one at the start?
RS: Well, I would like, Ill try to be first out of turn one. I dont mind, you know, and I try to win my race for my team. I mean, thats none of my business really and I mean we always try to win a race in a way that we dont hurt each other or push each other out. Thats never our intention. So it will be tomorrow. We just race. Normal race.
Q: (Sports Nippon) Michael, what is your best memory in Suzuka here?
MS: 2000 and I hope the next one.