FIA post-qualifying press conference - Monaco 26 May 2012
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: 1 - Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 2 - Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing), 3 - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
Q: Michael, many congratulations, a great lap. I guess the only shame is that you have to move five places back on the grid, so a bittersweet feeling is it?
Michael Schumacher: First of all, I am more than thrilled and excited about making a pole here in Monaco. Monaco to all of us is the track of the year, which has a very prestigious position, and to manage pole position here after what I have gone through in the past two-and-a-half years is just fabulous. Thats what sticks in my mind. I told you guys already in the press conference, my situation is going to be pole, start the race in sixth and Im going to win it. Thats what Im here for and what Im going to aim for. Thats all I gave in min mind and the past doesnt matter at all.
Q: Mark, you were on pole here in 2010 and youre going to inherit it tomorrow from Michael, what do you think about that?
Mark Webber: Pretty amazing session wasnt it. It was very, very close. Q3 was tight between the first few rows. Obviously there were some different tyre strategies going on with different people getting through different parts of qualifying with different sets of tyres and in the end it was a good little battle. Michael did a good lap, fair play to him, but its nice to move up a position. Of all places, its good to start definitely towards the front here. The guys have done a good job, they worked hard on the rest day, they pushed very, very hard. We werent too strong on Thursday and obviously didnt get much running, though everyones the same. But the car on Sunday is generally pretty good, so looking forward to tomorrow.
Q: Nico, youre only a tenth off pole position. You had provisional pole for quite a long time. I guess you thought youd done enough. Nevertheless, a chance to win the race tomorrow from where you start.
Nico Rosberg: Yeah, I wasnt too aware of the situation. I knew I had done a pretty good lap time but at the same time I knew that I would have to improve on that time to be able to get pole. But in general it was a good qualifying for me too. Everything went to plan. I didnt optimise my car perfectly in the end, bit too much understeer, but as such, front row is a great place to start tomorrow.
Q: Back to you Michael. Obviously its been a tough couple of years since you decided to make your Formula One comeback. What does this pole say about you and how do you feel?
MS: Well, Ill leave it up to the others to say what it means or doesnt mean. For me, Im obviously excited, very happy. It confirms what I have felt for a long time. Its just sometimes you have put everything at the right moment together. Here it worked out. I have to say a great thanks to all the team, in particular to some of the guys who work very close to me. We had a special session earlier this week that, yeah, it sort of uniforms and unites us even further and those are the result that come together with it. Im grateful for all the trust that Mercedes, the team had in me and [they] supported me. Im able to give back a little and I hope I give even further and more back tomorrow.
Q: Michael, your feelings about this pole position? Admittedly, it will be sixth on the grid.
MS: Obviously I saw my time on the dashboard and thought, well, it shouldnt be too bad. But then you dont know - as I was one of the earlier ones on track for the lap - what is going to come behind. So I was watching all of these monitors around the track and at one point I saw with a little sign, number one. And that was the moment I started slowly to believe and got confirmation on the radio. Yeah, just beautiful.
Q: Is this a good Mercedes track? Obviously youre first and third in qualifying.
MS: I mentioned before the weekend that here and probably Canada are tracks that are probably going to suit us. We shouldnt look too bad. I told in the round of media after this one down at the TV stations, I said the plan is to be pole here, start the race from sixth and do whatever is possible - may even win - and here we are. It is not a complete surprise that we are able to fight for the front position. But after Thursday free practice and even this morning I wasnt at all confident to be able to fight for pole position. Then everything seemed to work together. We just dialled the car in to perfection and its yeah its just a result. Its a result of team effort and team work and getting everything sorted and being ready for it.
Q: The statistics say that the highest winning grid position is third on the grid here. What can you do from sixth?
MS: Well, what can I say? Ive finished fifth from being last; I won from I dont know what positions. I will do as good as I can. Its most likely to be a one-stop strategy here, thats what you have to live with so in terms of strategy theres only a very small window to play with. Overtaking we know is tough but we have DRS and KERS so you might as well try - and be sure I will.
Q: Mark, as we mentioned the other day, you had your first podium here, you won from pole in 2010, youll be starting on pole tomorrow, youve been in the top five for the last four years. It all looks good, doesnt it?
MW: First of all, I think its Michaels day. Its a good lap for him so obviously it was a tight session for us. Lots of different people arrived in the back part of the important session in quali with different situations with tyres. Quali went quite smooth for me. Its the first time of the weekend where you put everything on the line - within reason - so it started to feel pretty good for me and I knew it was aiming for the first few rows for sure. And then it became very, very tight between us and I thought, OK, well, after the first run in Q3, it wasnt too bad a lap, I thought, we can still go for pole for sure on the last run. And yeah, it was a pretty good lap, Im pretty happy with it. Very, very good position to be starting tomorrow and we have a very, very good car, the guys have done a good job and Im very happy with todays effort.
Q: How well prepared are all the teams, would you say, after losing most of Thursday?
MW: Everyones in the same boat. I think that we dont have a huge amount of experience with the supersoft around here on long runs, but everyones going to be in the ballpark I would imagine.
Q: Michael says he feels its a one-stop race. Is that pretty much the strategy?
MW: 24 hours mate, well see!
Q: Nico, obviously youre starting on the front row. What does it mean here at what is your home circuit?
NR: I can also be pleased with today. Generally its all gone well, the whole weekend until now. Its especially great to see how we, as a team, have managed to turn things around from a difficult time the last two races and now be right at the front again. Its just nice to follow all the progress were making, moving forward and really fighting hard to improve the car and get the best of the situation - and thats why today to really be on top as a team in qualifying is great and Im very pleased, obviously, to start on the front row in Monaco. That is a great place to start to have a good race.
Q: You needed two laps on the first set of tyres in Q3. We didnt see what happened at the end of the lap.
NR: Two things: mainly the front warm-up on the tyres was an issue but also I did some setup changes from Q2 to Q3 and I had to find my way around those first, because it was quite a different strategy so thats why it took me two laps.
Q: And, as was the question to Mark, is the team perfectly happy with the preparation, given that you lost most of Thursday afternoon?
NR: Yes. Its not going to be easy, the race, definitely, you know a long race and tyre degradation is going to definitely be an issue but I think weve prepared well and done the best we can to make sure we have a strong race car.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Vincent Marre - Sports Zeitung) Michael, you set a fantastic pole position; I would like to know how you rate this one among all the others?
MS: May I just say that you have to see two different chapters of life and this is the second one, which stands by itself, because in this Silver Arrow time, in terms of qualifying is the best position I have been in and luckily Im able to give back, in that way, all the trust that has been shown in me over the last two and a half years.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov- F1 Life) Michael, is this pole position the best of your life and secondly, how many poles do you think you can set for the team this season?
MS: Similar answer to what I just said before, because how I rate this pole to others its the first one of the second part of my career and naturally thats the better one, because its the first one. Its just sweet and a good feeling after you have come back and have hoped for better results in all circumstances at the end of the day, after why and what has happened, but to finally get it together and being able to prove it - thats much more important and therefore Im certainly delighted.
Q: (Dan Knutson - Honorary) Mark, on Thursday you were not very optimistic about getting on the front row. What did the team change to make the car so much better today?
MW: We certainly pulled the balance together a lot more. Obviously there are no real fast corners here but there are a few where you need to be able to keep the car in the line, especially into Casino but also through the Swimming Pool. You need to have a very good rhythm and pace through there, which we didnt really have on Thursday, so the car, between low and high speed wasnt great. We really really pulled that together. Also I think the track helped as well, the rubber on the circuit helped pull it together. The driver always brakes a little bit later on Saturday, so that helps a bit as well. Altogether the guys have done a great job and I think we got the maximum, actually, from what we could do today.
Q: (Andrew Frankel - Forza) Mark, with all the hoopla, all the sponsors, everybody here, do you sleep just as well, starting tomorrow from pole position? Are you a bit twitchy, nervous or whatever?
MW: Thats Formula One around here. It is unique, it is a special event. In some cases I used to like Magny Cours because we could go there and just drive the cars and leave, but here, getting around and the people always being close and demanding things and all that sort of stuff is not always ideal, but thats the way it is. Sponsors, they come to a lot of different races. They are great for our programme but they are not in the cockpit with me and thats why they trust in us to get the job done.
Q: (Marco Giachi- Paddock) Michael and Nico, do you think the special device that you have in the front wing helped you get this very very good performance, to keep the car more balanced?
MS: First of all, it is obviously only available in qualifying and only if we can overtake in the race, otherwise its not available. Monte Carlo you almost get no effect from it. Theres a very small advantage because of the nature of the track, so I dont think you see any particular advantage in this one. For sure there is some advantage - thats why we have it, otherwise we wouldnt have built it, but certainly not enough to discuss it.
Q: (Cedric Voisard - Le Figaro) Question regarding penalties : would you say that it would be better and clearer for the public to apply penalties on site instead of at the next race ?
MW: After qualifying, I thought I had the penalty because my engineer said well done, great lap, de-de-de, penalty and I thought shit, what for? Ive done nothing. Yeah, then I was slightly relieved to hear it wasnt me who had got the penalty. When you have an incident in a Grand Prix, thats obviously the tricky thing, because its peoples decisions after the previous race When incidents happen I suppose that apart from fines, what else can you do? Sundays indiscretions. How do you enforce any regulation on driver behaviour or team behaviour or whatever after that? Do you have any ideas? I dont know.
Q: (Malcolm Folley - Mail on Sunday) Michael, with your rich history round here, can you tell us what it was like to put that lap together today. The world watches this qualifying session perhaps more so than anywhere else; it was the ideal time to remind everybody that you still do have it.
MS: You have probably already put my answer into your question. Monaco, being so special we call it a bit more of a driver track than some other tracks we run on through the year, but particularly because of the prestigious atmosphere and what it all means to us, it is super-fantastic if you manage to do such a lap. I knew that I was on a lap but then you can never be sure because we have seen how close and how tight today qualifying has been and I just managed to get it together perfectly, because everything was prepared and that is the nature of Formula One. It is very tricky these days and its not always possible to have everything together at all times but here and now we did, and we hopefully learn more and more in order to do that more often. But reminding people that Im still around, yup, thats a good point.
Q: (Frank Schneider - Bild) Michael, how come that you were able to predict this pole position last week when you were in Le Mans?
MS: Yip, not only did I say it on Wednesday here but I did so at Le Mans as well, thats true. I sort of felt that our car could be strong here, so it wasnt out of the blue, and it wasnt just a funny comment. There was quite a bit of optimism in there but I guess thats my nature.
Q: (Kate Walker - Girl Racer) Weve had some particularly variable weather over the last three days and we were expecting a wet qualifying session; are you expecting or afraid of a wet race or do you think its going to stay dry?
MS: Im expecting, at my pit stop, that it will start raining.
NR: Local knowledge hasnt really helped the last few days. Its been very unusual, thats not the normal weather here, that in the morning we have sunshine and then in the afternoon everything goes dark. Its very strange.
MW: I just do whatever Jenson does!
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paul) Michael, does a result like this - the maximum, pole position - have weight in your decision whether to continue or not in Formula One?
MS: You imagine that just because of one result Ive done at this moment Im suddenly restarting or opening a different subject. No, thats not the case. Im focused on what Im doing right now. There will come a time when I will make summary of everything and then I will sit down with the team to see what were going to do.
Q: (Rodrigo Franca - VIP Magazine) Michael, in the first chapter of your life, when you were on pole, you had two or three cars trying to win, like Ferrari or McLaren, and now we have 10 or 12 cars potential winners here. How do you see the race tomorrow from pole position?
MS: Naturally there are more contenders for winning this race than maybe there used to be in the past, thats true and that is why its also so tight. I dont know what the time gap is between positions one and ten today but I guess its much less than it used to be in the past. But thats how Formula One has evolved and there are particular reasons for this. Being up front, I like it but being on the other side you may disagree.
Q: (Olivier de Wilde - Le Derniere Heure) Michael, its a pity you have this penalty, especially here. Do you think it was justified?
MS: Im not thinking about two weeks ago. Im just thinking about the now and what will happen. Thats it. Im focused forward.
For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.