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FIA post-race press conference - Germany 30 Jul 2006

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren in the post race press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, 30 July 2006

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

1st Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h27m51.693s; 2nd Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1h27m52.413s; 3rd Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes), 1h28m04.899s.

Q: Michael, your 70th win for Ferrari, a big dent in Fernando’s championship lead, 100th win for Bridgestone: a phenomenal day for you.
Michael Schumacher:
Yeah. You’re putting numbers on… they’re very important but at the moment probably the most important is eleven because it’s eleven points left in terms of championship lead for Fernando. We have had a superb weekend. Our car just functioned really great. We had a good work-out before coming here, the last and final test before the summer break. We worked very hard together with Bridgestone in order to sort out the whole position and get organised and understand everything up to the last detail. We improved the car, Shell is delivering great products, so it’s a package which is the reason why we can perform as we do perform, although I have to say it was a bit of a surprise being that much in front but we’ll take it, we’ll really take it. It’s the right moment in time when we need to have such a performance in order to bring down the gap in the championship and keep the pressure on. Yes, a superb a weekend for all of us.

Q: It looked that way from the outside. Were there any moments during the race that you would describe as in any way critical or risky? Anything bad happened to you at all today?
MS:
Not really, no, no, there was nothing bad. Because we had such a margin we could really drive safely. It would have maybe been difficult and probably you saw cars going off the track because off line it was very dirty because we were running pretty soft compounds here and there’s a lot of rubber next to the line, with all the dust and so on, and I think a car went off in the last corner because of that. Other cars probably had trouble, and driving on the limit was probably very difficult in a way. We didn’t have to do that, so we didn’t really have moments.

Q: Felipe a fantastic team performance from you as well, out there behind Michael the whole way.
Felipe Massa:
Yeah. That was our target today, especially looking at our performance yesterday morning, we saw that in race conditions we had a very strong pace and that was our target, to put both Ferraris in front. I think it was a great job from the team, from everybody, from our suppliers and everybody, and I think me and Michael just tried to pull out the gap straightaway and then we were just looking to finish first and second.

Q: You make it sound fairly matter-of-fact but for you it’s a big change in terms of your career; it’s becoming almost routine for you to finish on the podium. What a change for you!
FM:
Yeah, for sure. I’m getting used to the podium a bit, just not the first place, so hopefully we’re starting to get there, working hard and just looking to push hard at every race to improve and to be there at every race. It’s important to be on the podium at every race and I think my time will come.

Q: Kimi, congratulations to you: P3, a three stop strategy and just finishing your first German Grand Prix – there seemed to be a fire after the race…
Kimi Raikkonen:
Yeah, it happens quite a lot when you slow down. The heat shield just caught fire, so nothing too serious.

Q: Talk through your race: on the pole, an early pit stop, talk through your strategy and your thinking as you went into this race and how it panned out for you?
KR:
Yeah, actually I think we had some problems yesterday, to be honest, between the second and last qualifying. When we were fuelling the car we really didn’t get as much fuel as we wanted. Then it turned out that we needed to get on pole because we knew that we didn’t have as much fuel as planned but in the end it worked out pretty well, because we came in quite early although the tyres were on the limit. I blistered my second set also, so it was a bit difficult at that moment. I also had a hydraulic problem so I lost a place to Jenson earlier. Because of that, the car was behaving really badly and I wasn’t getting full power and the gearshifting was all over the place. Looking at those things, we are happy to finish third and the end of the race was very strong for us, so no problems.

Q: And you lost time in the pits with the jammed wheel nut.
KR:
Yeah, so I think we had a lot of problems, but in the end we were still quick enough to gain all that time back on the circuit, so it shows we have definitely improved the car, but there is still some way to go to beat the Ferraris, but I think we are getting there and hopefully next race we can do better.

Q: Michael, your race engineer Chris Dyer was saying on the slow-down lap ‘all you’ve got to do now, Michael, is win the remaining races and you can be World Champion.’
KR:
Yeah, you can’t really expect that, but naturally, with the performance we have shown in the last three races against our competitor, it gives us great confidence that at least for some more races we can probably keep that and hopefully reduce the gap in the championship pretty significantly, quickly, so we might come back to a more normal situation in the last races where it’s going one to us and one to the other, because we have to expect that Renault will come back at some stage, to keep on winning a race, more races. We will have to find out, so it’s very important that we use that opportunity. This period and motivation and the feeling within the team is really superb and there’s a lot of thanks to Felipe who is doing a great job within the team, in testing and concentrating and just doing great and I’m happy to have him as my team mate.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Michael, are you surprised by your winning margin?
MS:
Yes and no. Yes, if you look at the last few races, it was a lot tighter, no, if you look at where we’ve been in qualifying. If you calculate in terms of the fuel load and where the others have been, we had a substantial margin, so we definitely made progress on the car, but naturally you’re never sure where it’s going to go, whether it’s going to suit a circuit particularly well. We hope it will for the others.

Q: And progress on the tyres as well, how close was the tyre choice here?
MS:
I think we had a good choice. Felipe collected very good information. He worked very well this weekend with the tyres, better than I did, and that helped me a lot to make the right choice.

Q: Was it fairly close or not?
MS:
It was right!

Q: Interestingly, Felipe was always fairly close behind you but the gap did fluctuate, it came out and went in again.
MS:
We had a nice situation together after the first pit stop. I just went into traffic the lap I had to go into the pit stop. He had a free lap, new tyres obviously, and he came out just behind me. I had to take the inner line into turn two which meant that I didn’t have a very good exit and he was alongside on the straight. Luckily he played it safe and we kept position.

Q: So it was traffic on your in lap…
MS:
Yeah, I had Sato and Ralf or a Toyota just in front of me on that lap.

Q: Felipe, you had a pretty good chance to study Michael’s car. Did you think your car was as good as his?
FM:
Yes, or at least very similar. We had a very similar car in the whole race. Sometimes I was pushing and the gap closed, and sometimes he was a little bit quicker, so it was very, very similar in the whole race for sure. After the middle of the race we started to see that our gap was very big to the other cars (and) we just decided to save the car, save the engine and everything to bring home both Ferraris at the front.

Q: The gap was 1.6 seconds on lap 26 and then suddenly went out to 3.4. Did you have quite a bad backmarker?
FM:
No, sometimes I had… I lost quite a lot of time with one car in the front. It was Liuzzi, I think, and then Michael pulled away some seconds. Then when Ralf came at the end of the race… He came very strong so I let him by. I lost quite a lot of time and then when Michael let him by we got together again so it was just normal traffic and normal circumstances during the race.

Q: Did you expect Kimi to come in so early?
FM:
Well, I saw his pace in the free practice three and in the first two qualifyings, so I knew he was there with a reasonable gap before so I knew that he was light. He was also lighter than us.

Q: Kimi, could you have made a better tyre choice, do you think?
KR:
No, I think it was right. The tyres were pretty okay. I had some blistering on the second set but some others did also. I had a problem with the car so, the rears were locking and the gear selection was not working so I think so it spoilt it also.

Q: If you didn’t have all these problems, could you have won?
KR:
For sure we could have been much closer, but I don’t know if we could have been quick enough for a win this year. We seem to have still some problems during the race, but the main thing was we still ended up on the podium. We just weren’t quick enough up on the circuit when we were chasing time up after the situations.

Q: Also you came out of the pits just ahead of Mark Webber. That was pretty close.
KR:
He was on the outside and I tried to look in the mirrors and he was far behind, and then suddenly under braking he was next to me and so it was enough.

Q: But I think you would have been quicker anyway wouldn’t you?
KR:
Yeah, but in racing you try to be at the front and overtake, so I was chasing Jenson Button and caught him quite easy so it wasn’t really a problem.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael, you said you have to use this moment also in the next races. Do you mean also because with the test ban you now have a package that you have an advantage to Renault?
MS:
I think we mean that we have had the edge on the other guys for three races, and we have to use this situation as long as we can, and yes, the test ban doesn’t really help if you’re in trouble because you can’t really sort out those troubles if you have some. But it’s not really about the test ban, it’s simply the performance we have and we have to keep this advantage as long as we can.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, you are second in the race. You didn’t look happy. What happened exactly?
FM:
Yeah, for sure, I am happy, definitely. For sure, I’m waiting for my first victory, so that’s why, what I’m looking forward to – to get my first victory. Definitely I’m happy with the result.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael, how much sweeter is this victory where Fernando finished fifth instead of Magny-Cours where he was second?
MS:
It’s not about sweet, it’s simply about importance at this time of the championship. What is great is that we have been able to do a performance like today in my home country. I’m very pleased about this, proud at the same time. I had a great emotion on the parade lap with the German fans – they’re really fantastic. To do a race like that and to gain further points like this in the championship, it’s just an ideal moment.

Q: (Udo Döring – Darmstädter Echo) Michael, did you have time to watch the spectators and did you have time to see the low crowd here at Hockenheim? What do you think about that?
MS:
That’s true, some areas, some famous areas like the Sachs Kurve were not really filled up as it was in the past. You’ll probably have to talk to Bernie about that.

Q: (Juha Päätalo – Financial Times Germany) Kimi, was the three-stop strategy clear yesterday or was it only because of the fuel problem for the Q3?
KR:
No, we were thinking of three-stops anyhow. Not as early as it came out though. It was purely because of the problem with the refuelling.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Felipe, can you describe the moment when you exited the pit-lane and Michael was coming down the track?
FM:
Yeah, it was very close and then he got the line. I would have been very stupid to try something aggressive at that moment against to change our race so I think I decided to be on the safe side and that’s it. I think it was a little bit stupid to try something.