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FIA post-qualifying press conference - Germany 29 Jul 2006

The post qualifying FIA Press Conference (L to R): Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari, second; Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren, pole position; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, 29 July 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), 1m14.070s; 2nd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m14.205s; 3rd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m14.569s.

Q: Kimi, we all saw what happened on that second run, you ran wide onto the grass, first of all, talk about that and then you got your pole lap on your first run.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, I was a little bit slower than on my fastest lap at that point so I didn’t have anything to lose and tried to run a bit too fast; actually, quite a bit too fast, but anyhow it was nice to get pole. We had some difficulties but anyhow, I think it’s the best place to start and let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Obviously it’s the first pole this year as we said; talk a little bit about the development that’s been going on behind the scenes with Michelin since the French Grand Prix, and also with the car.
KR:
I think the tyres have been very good this weekend, actually. We had some problems yesterday, graining the fronts, but today we sorted that out with the set-up and they have been good. We found something new on the car in the last test which seems to help. It’s always difficult to say during a test, especially in Jerez, how much we improved, but the car is definitely better now so we’re going in the right direction although we’re still not where we want to be, but this is a good way to go and that’s what we want.

Q: Well done Michael, on the front row of the grid again for another home Grand Prix. A spectacular entry to the pit lane for you at the end of your first run in that third qualifying session…
Michael Schumacher:
Yes, I was trying to practise but had a bit too much understeer in my car anyway and just didn’t find the right apex.

Q: So was understeer the limiting factor for you in Q3
MS:
Yeah, that’s the way the car was set up but it shouldn’t be a worry for tomorrow anyway.

Q: So you’re relatively comfortable with Kimi on the pole and you alongside.
MS:
I would be more comfortable sitting in the middle, no doubt, but that’s the way it is. We’re quite happy to have a strong opponent with us, and having Alonso where he is right now, that’s obviously a good starting point.

Q: I don’t know if you’re aware of it but Fernando said on his radio ‘did you see what Michael did?’ as he began his second run. Were you aware of any drama with Fernando at the exit of the pit lane there?
MS:
I exited the pit lane and once I was out, I saw that Fernando was pretty close to me but initially the lollypop was gone so I went but I wasn’t aware that he was there, because there were so many people, so much mess and so tight with Felipe, so if he felt there was some problem for him, then I’m sorry about that but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Q: Felipe, well done, a strong Ferrari performance today and great pitwork there having both cars in simultaneously.
Felipe Massa:
Yeah, it was good work by the team. For sure, it would be better to be first and second but I still think we did a good job. I think we have a good car for the race, very consistent, especially this morning, so I’m really looking forward to the race. I think race by race we are improving the car and now it’s very good to be in the top three all the time.

Q: How was your fastest qualifying run from your point of view?
FM:
I was not very happy about my lap because the first try was OK and the second try I just had too much understeer at the end of the lap so I couldn’t improve my lap because of that, but the car was better in Q1, it was a very very good car, and then I just picked up a little bit of understeer through Q1 even more Q2 and Q3. Anyway, it’s good to start here and it’s looking strong for the race.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Kimi, well done, it must be nice to be back on pole?
KR:
Yeah, it’s the best place to start so for sure it was nice. The car’s been good all weekend and we had some problems in qualifying, but nevertheless, it’s nice to be on pole.

Q: You talk about developments, things that you found in testing. Can you give us a little more detail on what they were?
KR:
We have a new front wing for this race and some other new stuff and it seems to… it was difficult to say in the test whether it was better or not but it definitely seems to be working well here.

Q: People have been talking about understeer here; what difference has that front wing made?
KR:
It’s improving it, so that we don’t have as much understeer. With our old front wing, we would have been in quite a bit of a worse position here, but it (the new wing) works very well here, so it’s perfect.

Q: Do you think that will make a difference in forthcoming races as well?
KR:
Oh yeah, for sure.

Q: So does this mark a resurgence for McLaren?
KR:
I hope so but you never know, it can change so quickly. We have had some very strong races this year and then the next race has been not so good again, so we just need to wait and see, but I think we’re going in the right direction.

Q: Michael, even though you’re second on the grid, you must be quite happy when it comes to your championship rival.
MS:
Yes, I am, not only that I’m second, but having Kimi being strong this weekend might help us and knowing Fernando is where he is, is obviously a great situation.

Q: What about the track, how have track conditions changed, and do you expect them still to change?
MS:
Yeah, I expect it still to rubber in more and more, that’s the natural procedure, particularly with the rain we have had, so it’s a bit more slippery, but if you see how it has even improved in qualifying, it was already quite interesting.

Q: So you expect the track almost to come to you in the race? Can you plan for that?
MS:
I don’t think it has been away from us anyway.

Q: But it could be even better, even more.
MS:
I don’t know. We don’t have any problems, so, sometimes when you are in a little bit of difficulty, you hope the track develops towards you, but we’re not really in any difficulty, so even if it develops, it might develop equally.

Q: Felipe, third, pretty good really isn’t it?
FM:
Yeah, yeah definitely. If you look at the pace this morning, and also the times in first qualifying, I was expecting to fight for pole, but in a way, if you look at my pace this morning, I am also optimistic for tomorrow, so I am really looking forward and I think we have a strong car and hopefully everything works in the direction we think it’s going to work and I’m happy anyway.

Q: I guess you meant that run of about seven laps when you were getting quicker and quicker and quicker.
FM:
Yeah. It was a really good run and the tyres were behaving very well, so hopefully tomorrow we can see an improvement in the track and everything and the whole car will behave even better.

Q: The session seemed to be more hectic than usual, than other sessions this year, particularly with two stops for tyres for you.
FM:
Yeah. I mean, very competitive, I think. We see that everybody is pushing hard and the competition is very high, so I think it is interesting.

Q: Makes a good spectacle for us anyway.
FM:
Yeah.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, is this the most surprising pole of your career?
KR:
I didn’t think so really. We’ve been pretty good all weekend. It’s… Okay, maybe a few little dips where it hasn’t been pretty good sometimes, but the car’s been good here so you never know.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, you said in the TV unilaterals that your second lap was not as fast as your pole lap. So what actually happened that you ran wide in one corner? Did you lose concentration?
KR:
No, I just went faster than normal because I was trying to gain back the lap time. I had nothing to lose on that lap really and so I tried to gain time on that corner and that’s why I went off at the corner.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Do you think there was any damage to the car caused by going through the gravel?
KR:
I don’t know, but we are allowed to change the bits that are broken.

Q: (Walter Koster – Saarbrücker Zeitung) Michael, why is it so difficult for you to win here? 13 races and only three wins. If you compare it with Magny-Cours, eight wins. And what are the advantages for you concerning the home race? Is it an advantage or more a disadvantage?
MS:
Absolutely no disadvantage. It is beautiful for the motivation and the motivation side. I like it. You’re right, the results show not as many wins as on other tracks, but I don’t have a particular reason for that. Some was unfortunate, some we went too slow, some I don’t know. But it really is one of the highlights of the year.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael, it looks like the run is going on for you. Do you think that way and how confident are you for tomorrow?
MS:
Yes, I think with Felipe and myself, we’re both reasonably comfortable with the car, and that in particular makes us very comfortable for tomorrow, so we look good from that side.