Post-qualifying press conference - Monaco 27 May 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m13.898s; 2nd Fernando Alonso (Renault), 1m13.962s; 3rd Mark Webber (Williams), 1m14.082s.
Q: A tense and breathtaking qualifying session, and you are on pole, but what happened to you in that incident at Rascasse?
Michael Schumacher: I locked up the front and went wide. I wasnt sure what was going on after this because of the positioning of the cars and so on, so I was not aware and in the end, I checked with the guys what the situation was, where did we end up, because I didnt expect to be sitting here right now in this position and they said P1, so I was glad considering what had happened.
Q: What actually happened at the end of the incident; did the engine actually stall?
MS: No, initially not and I tried to engage reverse but it didnt engage, and I didnt really want to back up just by myself without knowing what was coming around the corner and finally, it stalled.
Q: Brilliant show of speed today as the track has picked up grip.
MS: We didnt look very good on Thursday. It was a little bit down to the tyre choice. We changed our choice and that put us back on the road and yes, today, this morning, we seemed to be back on pace and we had very good long runs and so on, so Im pretty happy.
Q: It was always going to be very congested in those first two qualifying sessions; you waited until you went out and on both occasions it worked well for you.
MS: Yeah. Its difficult to find the perfect slot, but I saw so many cars going out very early and it was natural to find traffic in these moments so I just timed it slightly different. When I saw the red flag I thought maybe I didnt make the right choice but it came together and the second qualifying session worked out fine. I just conserved and made sure we were within the top ten, and then I gave it everything thereafter.
Q: Fernando, you were purple on the monitors on that first sector when Michaels incident occurred. Do you think you would have been on the pole?
Fernando Alonso: Yes, yes. Until the last corner, I was three tenths quicker than my previous lap so for sure, it was not too difficult today.
Q: Talk us through your emotions; you dont seem too happy about it. Do you think things could have been handled any differently?
FA: Well, I dont know. I do my maximum in the car, today it was OK, the car was performing really well. I think I had a good strategy and fantastic tyres for the race, so we have to wait and see tomorrow, but after dominating all weekend, to lose the lap because of an accident is not really a good moment.
Q: On Thursday it looked very much a Michelin day but today Ferrari and Bridgestone have come right back into it.
FA: Yeah, not only Ferrari but we see the Williams here and Toyota was not too bad here today so I think both tyres are quite competitive, on the same level, and Im very optimistic for the race. I think we have something more in the race, probably in our tyres, so hopefully we can do a good race with no more accidents.
Q: Mark, your best qualifying position of the year so far for Williams.
Mark Webber: Yeah, Thursday was pretty tricky for us. We had a lot of options to go through. Obviously we had Alex in the third car which helped us, but Nico and I went through our programme as usual with the race cars, running one set of tyres. Its always hard to get a real idea of how well were performing against inside ourselves, obviously but also the opposition, where we are going to be. Coming to today, it felt a bit better this morning and then when we started to put some rubber on the car, it was very good actually. In qualifying I had a good run, only the second lap in second qualifying wasnt great in terms of I had a bit of a wild first sector and had traffic in the last sector. But I was a little bit up again on our last run, just chipping away. I think we were all getting just a little bit more and then I thought I saw some yellow flags which I didnt want to believe but then I saw the marshals were waving them quite heavily, so I had to back off because my gut was telling me something was on the outside of Rascasse and obviously it was Michael, so I aborted and came straight in, because there was no chance to improve. So it was a good job by the team, actually. The guys have done a really really good job. The cars performing better here. Obviously the last race was not good enough for us and I hope we can get some more points here.
Q: Michael, different overalls here, perhaps lucky overalls, first time on the pole since 2000.
MS: Yeah, well, history is really not important. You have to live in the present and the new overalls was a very nice design by Philip Morris. We had this idea in Madonna di Campiglio already and we both liked the idea and thought Monte Carlo is a special occasion where we could put some colour into it and we were happy to use it. So lets see and hope it can be lucky tomorrow, thats more important.
Q: Michael, just talk us through that incident again if you would?
MS: I think you had best watch the pictures. You will see me locking up and just running out of road.
Q: And then did you stall?
MS: Not initially. Initially I tried to get reverse but it was hesitating to move and then finally I stalled.
Q: In comparison to Thursday, a complete change in performance. You mentioned a change of tyres; was it just that?
MS: No, it was obviously not just that, probably it was also the track coming to us plus making some changes to the car. Maybe there were some other reasons in terms of how we approached the weekend, slightly differently to the other guys which showed us not as strong as we could have been. The other point is that a lot of people used new tyres on Thursday and we didnt.
Q: Ross mentioned a new or different strategy here; is that what you meant by a different approach to the weekend?
MS: Maybe different to the others, because part of the gap we closed you can probably only explain in a few situations.
Q: Obviously that incident at the end has upset one or two people; what do you say to people who suggest it was on purpose?
MS: We try to drive the car and we find out what it is. The point is that I think I was slightly quicker in the first sector. I dont know what it was in the second sector but I was obviously watching my time and I was just a little bit quicker and a little bit quicker is not enough, honestly, so you push and you go for it and that was a bit too much.
Q: Fernando, obviously (you are) a bit frustrated, but second on the grid, again, just like last year?
FA: Yes, but last year I finished fourth so hopefully I will finish on the podium tomorrow or even win the race.
Q: And frustrated, too, because you reckon you should have been on pole?
FA: Yes, I was three-tenths better in the second sector already, after the chicane, so it should have been (faster) and I repeated the time of the last lap even with (what happened at) the Rascasse, going in the inside part and slow, and for sure it was three-tenths or something like that.
Q: Did the car improve today compared to Thursday?
FA: Yes it improved with some changes in the car and it performed really well today. The tyres were also in the long run really strong and so for tomorrow we should have a good package.
Q: Mark, again, third on the grid for you and it was a good result last year?
MW: Yeah, well, a totally different ball game that was last year and a lot of the opposition didnt make the right tyre choice last year, and we did, so that was a good result, but overall we made good progress over the rest day, yesterday, in terms of making a few adjustments to the car with the electronics and the toys a little bit here and there -- and here we are. The car behaved quite well today and it is a credit to the team really. They kept digging in there. The good thing I am encouraged about is we are at the front, but obviously we will see tomorrow with the fuel loads, but the most important thing for me is to try and be at the front and thats a lot better than the last few races, which is good for us.
Q: Is this a favourite circuit of yours?
MW: I like it. Its been good to me in the past. Its my job not to have any circuits that I dont like so I try my best to enjoy them all. But Monte Carlo I think is special for all the drivers. Its a very tough circuit and we like the challenge and I think its good to be punished for your mistakes. If you make a mistake here it virtually always ends in tears. We all like the challenge. Well, I do anyway. Its a good track to challenge the drivers. And this year its quite quick in places compared to years gone by so the challenge is still there.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Anne Giuntini - LEquipe) To Michael, do you think the championship will continue on that kind of basis, sportingly speaking, and some incidents may be arbitrating the battle between two great champions?
MS: I dont get your question completely right
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) To be honest, I have talked already to some drivers professionals like you who said it is too big, what happened today, to be credible, so on that basis I think that maybe there is some interrogation and maybe it is a bit of a shame if it is true
MS: It would be a shame if it is true, absolutely, but I think it is as usual whatever you do in certain moments. Your enemies they believe one thing and the people that support you believe another thing and that is what our sport is about.
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) It is not a question of friends or enemies, it is a question of sport.
MS: I think it is because I explained you what really happened and if you want to believe this you believe and some people may not believe this but, unfortunately that is the world we live in.
Q: (Anne Giuntini LEquipe) It is a big shame.
MS: Yes, unfortunately thats it
Q: (Byron Young - Speed Sport News) Fernando do you think anything less of Michael today?
FA: I have my opinion and I wont tell it here.
Q: (Byron Young - Speed Sport News) Michael do you think you cheated today?
MS: No. And I dont know why you ask such a bad question. I think it is pretty tough I have to say. If you were to drive around here, at Monaco, you would probably not ask this question.
Q: (Byron Young - Speed Sport News) Would you be surprised to hear that Renault has gone to the stewards?
MS: I dont care what other people, teams do. I know Flavio well enough.
Q: (Laurentzi Garmendia - Berria) To Fernando, you seemed to be faster, so you should be confident for the race - or are you worried because you are starting in the right lane?
FA: No, I am not worried. I am waiting and looking forward to tomorrow. I think, as I said before, I think we have a great package for the race and a very constant tyre in the long runs so our opportunity will come tomorrow for sure and we have to wait and see, but after all the Grand Prix from Thursday we should be starting from P1, but sometimes its not possible. So we will try to recover tomorrow.
Q: (Jerome Bourret - LEquipe) There were no yellow flags on Michaels incident. What was your reaction when you arrived at Rascasse? Was Michaels car on the line and did it disturb you a lot?
FA: Yes there were yellow flags from the corner before, from the chicane. I didnt know what had happened from the corner so I braked more than normal because maybe there was a car in the middle of the track and you cannot go through and Michael was on the outside, on the line, and I tried to avoid him and to complete the lap just to give us the possibility of more laps tomorrow in the fuel bank. So I just finished the qualifying lap.
Q: (Laurentzi Garmendia - Berria) To Mark, do you think your third position is an indicator of Bridgestones real pace more than Michaels, who is normally in the top three?
MW: I think Bridgestone have done a pretty good job here and I think well see how the long runs go and that what the drivers are most interested in to see the performance of the tyres over a two-hour Grand Prix. Its been a very happy hunting down for Michelin at this venue so maybe it is time that Bridgestone get some results and do the business tomorrow. So I hope we can do that.
Q: (Juha Paatalo The Financial Times Deutschland) To Fernando -- at the moment you arrived at the Rascasse did you realise there and then that you wouldnt be able to take pole or did that thought come later after that?
FA: No, it was in that moment because with yellow flags you are so close to your time. You are just two-tenths or three-tenths or one and a half better than your best time and if anything goes wrong in the last two corners you lose that advantage and for sure if there is a yellow flag it is gone that possibility and you have to back off and you have to slow down.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) To Michael, apart from all these questions, considering your improvement, do you think you have a package to win the race tomorrow?
MS: I hope so. We have been quick all this morning and we made quite a step forward on the car side, but then probably in terms of fuel load we were different maybe on Friday, than other people, and we were on old tyres obviously. And compared to Fernando, he was on old tyres as well, but in general the track seemed to come towards us and we have seen this in the past that here in Monaco certain things can change pretty dramatically. If you look at Barcelona, we were quicker friday and Saturday and lost the edge on Sunday. I just hope it goes the other way around here.
Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Michael did the engine stall before you had reverse engaged or after?
MS: The engine, actually, I need to check why the engine stalled because there was no reason why it should stall, but I think that we have some protection that after a certain time, if the engine is running like that, it switches off itself. I guess that is what happened.
Q: (Juha Paatalo The Financial Times Deutschland) Michael you have already analysed it, but can you describe your thoughts and feelings when sitting there in the car?
MS: Well obviously you are thinking you are going to be positioned backwards because although in that moment it is difficult for the others to improve, but I didnt know what happened between when I made the fastest time and that moment -- and a lot of things could happen and I wasnt really updated on the radio for that. When finally, at the last moment, when I was pushed back in, I said so where did we end up? and we were still on pole -- so I was quite a bit surprised that it was still the case.
Q: (Byron Young Speed Sport News) Michael did you know that the Renaults, that Fernando was on a fast lap behind you?
MS: I think we all were on a fast lap.