GERMAN GP - FRIDAY - QUALIFYING REPORT

Williams 1-2 in provisional qualifying

Ralf Schumacher, German GP 2003

Ralf Schumacher, German GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Ferrari

Rubens Barrichello (8th, 1:15.399): "This morning I had a few problems finding the best set-up on the car.The situation improved for qualifying, but not sufficiently for us to be fighting for the top spots. On my timed lap, I made a small mistake in the third sector. Judging by what we have seen today, we do not seem to have the advantage here which we enjoyed at Silverstone,but this does not mean we won't be in the running right to the end. Now, we have to work to try and extract all the potential which the car has at its disposal."

Michael Schumacher (9th, 1:15.456): "This was not the best qualifying lap of my career, but it wasn't bad.The track was quite slippery because of the other cars which ran on the track in between our two sessions, resulting in the marshals having to clean the track, so perhaps being first on the road this afternoon was a further slight disadvantage. Our competitors seem to have a very strong package over one lap. But we can be confident for the race, because in this morning's free practice session, we saw that our tires performed very consistently in race trim with a heavy fuel load."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Ending the first qualifying session with our cars in eighth and ninth places is certainly not what we are used to. Today, the opposition proved to be very quick over the single lap. However, we know that Friday's times are not necessarily representative of what we can expect on Sunday. Tomorrow, the choice of tire type for the second qualifying session and the race will be crucial. This morning's free practice threw up interesting indications as regards the rest of the weekend."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "A somewhat disappointing result given that we looked quite competitive this morning, but maybe not competitive enough. Now we will work on improving the car. Neither driver is completely satisfied with the set-up, so we know we have room to improve in this area. From what we saw in free practice, the tires are very good in terms of consistency. It might turn out that we won't be on the front row tomorrow, but we can be confident about Sunday's race."

Williams-BMW

Ralf Schumacher (1st, 1:14.427): "I am quite surprised to be at the front, since I took it quite easy on my qualifying lap. My car was simply perfect, brilliantly balanced and the tires behaved very well too. I can only be happy with this result, also because it shows that we have solved a few problems we had in this morning's Free Practice. Now I am looking forward to a good qualifying and a good race, especially because the weather forecast is predicting hot conditions, which will suit our package."

Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd, 1:14.673): "I am pleased with my first qualifying lap, as my car had a good balance after we sorted out the small problems we had this morning. I could have done slightly better if I hadn't braked too early into the hairpin but all in all I am happy with this afternoon's performance. Moreover, we are well set both for tomorrow's qualifying and I believe we look good for the race too."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "We have had a good day today with both cars being at the front. Of course, it is only the first qualifying but still it gives an idea of the pace. This morning we did a lot of our set up work for the race, and we are confident for what looks to be hot weather coming up for the weekend. Again the designers have brought more improvement to the cars with new parts."

Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "This is a perfect result for a Friday. I believe on this track we are well prepared in every aspect for a strong race on Sunday. We have to remember that the old circuit is quite different from the new one. It is no longer about only having a powerful engine, but rather about having a good package, such as chassis, tires and obviously driver. On this circuit we are clearly well set, just like we were in the past few races."

McLaren-Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 1:15.276): "My lap was not too bad as I only lost time in the last sector, and it was the first time today we ran with the new tires and less fuel, so it was difficult to know how hard you could push. Everything is working well and the car is nice to drive. We will not see the true picture before tomorrow, so it's difficult to say where we will be."

David Coulthard (11th, 1:15.557): "My time was pretty much the same as I did in this morning's practice where I was fastest. I wasn't as tidy in turn two and at the Hairpin on my qualifying lap, so I know that we can be quicker. It looks like the Michelin tires are performing well here, so I'm expecting a close battle for pole position tomorrow."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Just prior to today's qualifying session one of the support events had their practice and as a result the circuit conditions were less than ideal. Consequently both Kimi and David took a cautious approach to what at the end of the day is not a vital session. Overall the cars are performing well, and only tomorrow's qualifying will tell us what our true pace will be."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We haven't been able to show our optimum performance in today's qualifying session yet, but for Saturday we should have a good basis to perform well once we are in race trim."

Renault

Jarno Trulli (3rd, 1:15.004): "A good day! We worked on tires and set-up during the morning, and the result is that we have made a good tire choice and the car is reasonably well balanced. We lost a bit of time this morning, which may have cost a little in terms of our competitiveness, but I am looking forward to tomorrow. This could be a good weekend for us."

Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:15.214): "I am in a good position: everybody knows that the important thing on Friday is to make sure you get a solid result, and my run tomorrow will be when the track conditions are at their best. Today, our program was based around tire and set-up work. The car is still understeering a little bit, but we can work on that some more tomorrow."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A straightforward qualifying session. The balance on both cars is nearly there, but there is still a little work to do. The car obviously has the raw speed at this track, and our concentration must now be on ensuring we get good straightline speed with our race set-up, and look after the tires, which are under a lot of strain at this circuit in these hot conditions."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Relative to our performance this morning, we are where we expected to be. It has been a satisfying first day, during which we completed our planned program. We are in a good position in terms of pure performance, and I think we can expect a strong result from the rest of the weekend."

Sauber-Petronas

Heinz-Harald Frentzen (13th, 1:15.968): "Today I made my first mistake of the season in qualifying. In the first turn I went off track and lost quite a lot of time. The rest of my lap was fantastic! I think this track suits us, because without that mistake we'd have been close to the top 10."

Nick Heidfeld (14th, 1:15.985): "I think my lap was okay. I didn't get the best out of the car because in the free practice this morning I destroyed the floor when I ran wide in the first corner, and also I didn't run with a low fuel load so I didn't really know what to expect from the car this afternoon. Beside this, the front tires began graining from the middle of the lap, generating understeer."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "At the moment we are measuring ourselves against BAR, who made a lot of progress this season and run with the same tire brand. Despite Heinz-Harald's mistake in the first corner the gap between us and BAR has become a lot smaller, which is encouraging."

Jordan-Ford

Ralph Firman (16th, 1:17.044): "It's my first time at Hockenheim and things are going pretty well for me this weekend. I'm hopeful that there's more lap time to come, especially in the last sector. We will improve the car a little bit more and see where we end up."

Giancarlo Fisichella (17th, 1:17.111): "Today was nothing special and we are quite far off the pace. Admittedly, my lap wasn't fantastic, but it's another difficult weekend for us."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "Giancarlo reported that the rear of his car was a bit nervous during his qualifying lap and Ralph had a bit too much understeer. When the temperature comes up, we lose grip. It's very confusing but that's the way it is at the moment. Zsolt Baumgartner did a very competent job in his first proper test session with us and it was good to collect data from three cars for the first time."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (4th, 1:15.030): "I enjoyed that! The car felt very good and the balance works well on this circuit. I made a small mistake at Turn 6 and that prevented me from taking P3 from Jarno Trulli. It is impossible to do these one-lap qualifying shoot-outs and not make tiny errors along the way. One lap qualifying, however, is very enjoyable on low fuel. You are not hindered by the extra weight load in the car and it really allows you to take the car to its limits. It really is a great feeling. The team have done an excellent job in preparing the car today and it makes for a very positive start to what is always a long weekend of hard work and focus. With that in mind, we must wait until the outcome of tomorrow's qualifying session before we can begin making any predications about the race. It must be said that Justin has started off very well and has done a good job today. For me, however, it doesn't matter who is in the other car. My job is to keep pushing to the limit and help take the team forward. Jaguar has come a long way since last year and we will keep the momentum going through to Japan. There are still a lot of potential points on offer over the next five races."

Justin Wilson (7th, 1:15.373): "That was awesome! It's very unusual to see yourself in P7 having out-qualified Michael Schumacher on what is my first full day on the job with Jaguar Racing. The car felt fantastic over that one flying lap and I must congratulate the team for the excellent preparation in the build up to that lap. I did feel the pressure, yes, but you've just got to go out there and do the best job you can. I was under enough pressure to begin with but when Mark Webber went out and recorded P4, it changed the goal posts completely. That was an excellent lap from Mark and given that I had only done two fast laps on low fuel before that session, I didn't think P7 was possible. I managed a clean lap and combined with the balance on the R4, the team has been rewarded with two cars in the top seven. A good start to the weekend I am doing my best to climb the steep learning curve ahead of me. The team, however, is making my life a lot easier and helping me in every area ? both inside and outside the cockpit. We still have some work to undertake tomorrow morning and I'm sure there is still time left in the car to extract. The big test is tomorrow's session but suffice to say that I am very pleased with how my first weekend with Jaguar has begun."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A great start to our German Grand Prix weekend. We've had a very productive morning here with both drivers taking full advantage of the two-hour test followed by the one-hour Free Practice session. We covered everything from tire comparisons, balance, set-up and Mark also put some mileage onto the T-car. We have been working very closely with Michelin to better understand our issues from Silverstone and so far, we are very satisfied with how the Jaguar R4 is performing, albeit we won't really know until we cover a race distance on Sunday. Justin's first ever-qualifying session with Jaguar was simply superb. Given how little mileage he has covered in the car, everyone is delighted with his performance today. Mark set the benchmark with a stunning lap that put him in P4 ? ahead of both Ferraris, McLarens and a Renault. That was a very good lap indeed, but put more pressure on Justin. When Justin's turn came, he handled it with both composure and focus and was rewarded with an excellent P7 spot for tomorrow's final shoot-out. A good all-round performance from the team, Michelin, Cosworth and Pi Electronics but a long way to go this weekend before we can begin getting too carried away."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (12th, 1:15.754): "It was a reasonable lap for me. I got a little too much oversteer in the first part of the stadium section - the left-hander hairpin - so I lost a bit of time there. I couldn't really do much more today but hopefully we can improve tomorrow. Compared to the Ferrari we're only three tenths away from Michael, but there's a bigger gap between ourselves and the Williams at the moment. Who knows though? A lot of people have been using a tire that may be good for qualifying but possibly not so good for the race, so we'll have to wait and see how that pans out."

Jacques Villeneuve (19th, No Time): "I went through the first corner a little bit too fast, but not by that much. We made some set-up changes after this morning's session and the effect was bigger than expected. I just went sideways and lost it. The car felt good until that point and suddenly the rear started sliding a bit but not a big snap. It wasn't something that took me by surprise, it happened very slowly. I think we have a good car balance and the car was good on old tires this morning. It's better that we had this problem today rather than tomorrow but now we have a lot of work to do to get a good result in final qualifying."

David Richards, Team Principal: "We have to be very pleased that we are less than four tenths off our benchmark team in low fuel running, on the same tires, and this gives a very clear indication of the progress we have made in recent months. The positive aspect of Hockenheim is that overtaking is easier than at many other circuits, so our focus on a good race set-up should pay dividends on Sunday."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "This morning?s practice went to plan and we were able to find a good set-up on old tires for both cars. The Silverstone aero package and the latest step engine are working very well, so given our good top speeds and the overtaking possibilities at this track, we should be able to race well. Jenson had an excellent qualifying run and, despite being 12th, we are very happy with our speed compared with Ferrari. Jacques was too confident with his car set-up and tried to carry too much speed into the first corner, resulting in a spin which meant he had to abort the lap. Tomorrow we will focus on achieving the optimum compromise between qualifying and race set-up."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "The times are pretty close today which made for a very interesting qualifying session. Both our drivers pushed hard but tomorrow is when it really counts - it will certainly be interesting with Jacques going out second and Jenson later in the session."

Minardi-Cosworth

Jos Verstappen (18th, 1:17.702): "If you compare us with Ferrari, I think we did a good job, as we were only down two seconds today! One could interpret that to mean we have made up ground on them since the start of the season. As far as qualifying was concerned, the chassis was well balanced and I think I drove a clean lap. The time was good, considering the team's circumstances, so I think we are starting the weekend in a positive way. I am also pleased by Justin's performance this afternoon. It shows how competitive the Minardi drivers are."

Nicolas Kiesa (20th, No Time): "It was bad luck that the car stalled as I pulled out of the garage into the pit lane to do my run, and I'm obviously disappointed. I was really looking forward to qualifying this afternoon and trying to get as close to Jos's time as possible. The car ran faultlessly in every test, and then when it counted, we had a problem. Despite this, we did some useful work today, so we'll put this behind us and aim to sort things tomorrow."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "Today began well, as our two debutants, Nicolas and Jimmy, together with Jos, completed a trouble-free practice this morning. Following on, Jos and Nicolas again completed their technical programmes, and Jos's lap in qualifying was as good as could have been achieved today. Sadly for Nicolas, he failed to set a time in qualifying due to an anti-stall problem, but overall, he has done a fantastic job on his first day. I'm sure there's a lot more to come from him tomorrow. Never having really driven an F1 car, Jimmy put in a very solid performance today and his times were very impressive. I must also say how pleased everyone is at European Minardi to have seen Justin Wilson's fine seventh-place qualifying performance for Jaguar Racing this afternoon. It just goes to show that all the faith we had in his talent was totally justified."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (10th, 1:15.471): "I am quite encouraged by this result. We are in the top ten again, which is where we aim to be in every qualifying and we have found a good balance on the car for this track. We are using a new specification engine and some new aerodynamic parts on the car this weekend, which all look quite promising. Our tire supplier Michelin is also looking competitive here, so overall I am pleased. The whole team has done a good job and we have started the German Grand Prix weekend well. I hope we can keep this up."

Cristiano Da Matta (15th, 1:16.450): "I am not pleased with my qualifying lap this afternoon. Everything felt good on the car in this morning's free practice hour, but I didn't get a great run in qualifying. We got the balance of the car wrong for the session, and I suffered from too much oversteer during my flying lap. I made a couple of little mistakes as well, but I think we have a good package for this track and the car has potential, so I think everything will be fine tomorrow."

Ange Pasquali, Team Manager: "We are quite satisfied with our qualifying session today. We have another top ten result, albeit on a Friday, but it shows we are heading in a good direction. Olivier drove a very respectable lap, but Cristiano was unfortunate to be slower than he was in this morning's practice. Nevertheless, we did some productive work in free practice and we know what areas we have to work on to prepare for tomorrow afternoon's qualifying and Sunday's race, so we remain confident."


FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 1 AUGUST 2003

DRIVERS: Ralph FIRMAN (JORDAN), Nicolas KIESA (MINARDI), Cristiano DA MATTA (TOYOTA), Jacques VILLENEUVE (BAR), Justin WILSON (JAGUAR)

Q: Nicolas, a newcomer to Formula One, how have things gone so far today?

Nicolas KIESA: Things went quite well just up until this qualifying session. I didn't make the qualifying session. The car suddenly went into an anti-stall program which I hadn't learned how to get out of and the engine switched off after ten seconds and I didn't manage to get out of the pit lane before the red light came on.

Q: What are your basic impressions of Formula One, however?

Kiesa: It's really nice. Everyone in the team has been nice to me. I've been working hard physically to get fit for these cars. I've studied them - I've been a TV commentator in Formula One for one and a half years. I've had a lot of research time to learn these cars. I've had all the theories in place before I started, so driving the car wasn't a bit shock to me, it felt quite natural.

Q: What are you expecting from your five races this year?

Kiesa: I expect to show, hopefully, that I'm good enough to stay here in Formula One. It's a dream come true that I'm here now but part of the dream is also to be good enough to stay here.

Q: How did it all come about?

Kiesa: I'm not quite sure how it happened. During the course of the Silverstone Grand Prix, my manager told me that there might be a chance of me going to Formula One. But he said 'don't think about it and just do your F3000,' but it was quite hard not to think about it because I could hear that he was quite serious. After the race, he took me aside and said 'I think we need to talk' and he told me there was a good possibility that on the Monday I could maybe have a contract.

Q: Ralf, first of all Giancarlo seems to be pretty frustrated in the team at the moment, what are your feelings?

Ralf FIRMAN: Obviously I'm pretty happy today to out-qualify him. I've had a good day on my first time here but there's a lot more time left. I'm happy with the team and looking forward to working with them a lot harder. I want to stay with the team. I think there's a good bunch of guys there. They work hard and there's definitely a lot of potential. If they had a lot of budget behind them again I'm sure they would get back up the front. Jordan have been winning in the past and hopefully they can get back to it again. But Giancarlo has been pretty clear that he wants to leave the team, but I want to stay.

Q: What does it need to be more competitive - you talk about budget?

Firman: It mainly is budget, isn't it? In the wind tunnel would help a great deal - just to have the money to go and develop the car, and then once you've found what's good, to actually be able to manufacture it. The team's been competitive, but Minardi and Jordan have been struggling this year, and sometimes on the circuit there hasn't been that much difference between the cars. The guys have been trying hard, and obviously here we are trying to score points today.

Q: It's a new track for you here, what have you thought of it?

Firman: It would have been nice to drive on the old one. It looked absolutely fantastic. It's a nice circuit, there are obviously opportunities to overtake here which will be good, but we will wait and see how the race pans out.

Q: Cristiano, it's pretty much a new track for you, too, what do you think of it?

Cristiano DA MATTA: Well the new circuit is a lot more like a normal circuit than the old one obviously. I think it's a good thing when you actually come to circuits that are different than most of the others. The old one? this one actually looks quite normal. It's a fun circuit to drive, but it's definitely not special like the old one.

Q: You led a Grand Prix for the first time a couple of weeks ago; what were the feelings like after that?

Da Matta: Leading Grands Prix of course is a good feeling. After that, you're back to work to try to make sure you can do it again. Of course, we still have a long way to go until we get there. We know that we lead the Grand Prix because of the situation we were in with the two safety cars and everything, but of course we made the best out of that situation, and we just need to keep working to try to close the gap to the bigger teams, and some day try to lead on our own merit.

Q: Now things have been getting better recently, they've got appreciably better. A little bit disappointing today, perhaps, but I think you've got new parts here as well?

Da Matta: The main thing we've got here today is a new engine which seems to be doing pretty good. I'm actually not too unhappy with car - just the qualifying lap wasn't a very good one. I don't think we should be as competitive as we were at Silverstone but we should be somewhere close, I hope.

Q: Is that going to be the case for the rest of the season?

Da Matta: It's difficult to say because, especially in Formula One, other teams are always improving so quickly, so you just blink for a minute and all the other guys are already developing some other things and you have to go and catch up again. One thing for sure I know the team has been working very hard to keep the pace of this type of improvement that we have been making in the last couple of races, like say, four or five races. And we're going to try to keep it up, try to keep improving at the same pace.

Q: Has that been one of the surprises for you this year, the rate of improvement?

Da Matta: I think that's definitely one of the main differences between Formula One and where I'm coming from because in CART, at a certain time during the year, they freeze the aero package, you cannot do anything aerodynamic any more. There's just a lot more set-up development than actual car development. Here you play with a lot more basics of the car than the actual set-up of the car. So it's two very different things.

Q: Jacques we'll try and leave today aside; we know that you're capable of speed and I think you're fairly frustrated at the moment. What do you need, what is lacking?

Jacques VILLENEUVE: I guess a good day would be nice. You know when things start going wrong then it's hard to try and get out of it, but things have been wrong for a couple of years now and I think everything is just piling up.

Q: There have been a lot of rumours about your future, including one about you going to Ferrari. What is the truth?

Villeneuve: Some rumours make you smile and make you happy, so it's good to read them, and some of them they make you very unhappy. But there are a lot of rumours going on , but there's nothing to say right now.

Q: What's the situation with BAR; have you got a chance to stay there?

Villeneuve: We're heavily into discussions.

Q: What are the developments here; there were some at the last race?

Villeneuve: No, we had the developments at the last race, something different in the engine. I think that's about it. We're using a different tire as well, which was used by one car at the last race and I think that will be good for the race, but won't make a difference for qualifying.

Q: So you expect to be roughly where the other car was today?

Villeneuve: Not where we are today! The way our car was going on old tires today was acceptable. Maybe we can do something good in the race as long as we can qualify well.

Q: Justin, a fantastic day. What has it been like, your first day at work with Jaguar?

Wilson: Obviously it is a steep learning curve - trying to get used to the car and the circuit as well as the team, just learning a lot and improving each time I go out, having more confidence in the car and believing in what it can do.

Q: Are there a lot of times where you said 'oh, we didn't do that at Minardi?

Wilson: Yeah, obviously there are things that are different but the way they work is very similar - at the end of the day they are (both) trying to make the car go as quick as possible but they (Jaguar) have more resources and the team works very well together so it is a pleasure to drive for them. I am really grateful and I just want to make the most of the opportunity.

Q: With five races left in the season, are you under a lot of pressure to do well?

Wilson: It's Formula One, there is always pressure, you are always trying to do your best and you have to try and pull through. Yeah, there is pressure, but at the same time the team have been very good saying they don't expect anything at this race so it is a nice feeling but for my own personal satisfaction I want to do the best I can.

Q: The way it came about was midnight meetings at the factory and things like that. Can you tell me a bit about that?

Wilson: Well, before things went too far they obviously wanted to see if I could fit in the car and I had a phone call from Jonathan my manager saying 'they would like you to go and sit in the car and see if you can fit in'. I didn't know why that was, whether it was for this year, next year or just curiosity, so I obviously agreed and went down to the factory and sat in the car.

Q: When was that?

Wilson: That was a few weeks ago now.

Q: And it was in the middle of the night, wasn't it?

Wilson: No, but it was late in the evening, so I went and sat in the car and I could fit in and obviously I was relieved considering not so far off 12 months ago I couldn't fit in the Minardi.

Q: What did you suspect was happening?

Wilson: I wasn't too sure. You don't want to get carried away but obviously there were a lot of rumours it would be Silverstone and I just tried to ignore all that and concentrate on what I was doing. It was only after the race that I had a phone call saying could we meet up, so it went from there and everyone knows the rest.

Q: And what did you think of your performance in qualifying today?

Wilson: I was very happy. It was a big step forward from what I did earlier in the (practice) session and again it is just learning the car. I think the session improved as well and I was just trying to get the most out of it.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Justin, are you surprised to have put both Ferraris behind you?

Wilson: Yeah, the first time in the Jaguar I was very surprised to have that. But tomorrow's another day, we still have a lot of work to do and it would be nice if we are in this position but I don't expect to be in this position. If it happens again, great, if it doesn't then I am not too disappointed.

Q: Jacques, is Formula One the only option or, not next year but down the road, would you consider racing something else?

Villeneuve: Formula One is the top level of motorsport racing so after winning here it would be difficult to be happy doing anything else. But who knows. Maybe after you retire you spend a few years at home, you get really bored then you are happy to do anything else. But I can't imagine that right now.

Q: That sounds like if you didn't get Formula One you might spend a year at home.

Villeneuve: Yeah, I wouldn't jump into something else tomorrow - that is definite. But there is no plan of not being in Formula One next year.

Q: Justin, when you saw the lap time that Mark had done, did you have a target lap time and, if so, what was it?

Wilson: My aim for the first qualifying was to be within a second of Mark. I know how quick he can be and when I saw his lap time it was great for the team but I was also under a lot of pressure because I knew that I wanted to be close to him. I was thinking about that in the car before I went out to do the qualifying and when I got to the end of the lap I knew it had hooked up quite well. The car responded very well and I knew it was a reasonable time but I was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the line and saw the lap time.


THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 31 JULY 2003

DRIVERS: Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAM), Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI) and Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS)

Q: A question for all you: there have been seven different winners in eleven races this year, five still to go, you all have a chance in the championship. How much are you looking at the championship, and how do you rate your chances?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: Honestly, I think, race by race. I think it's been quite good to have won the last race and put me a little bit better into the championship. It's closer than ever, but it's probably one of the most difficult situations as well because you have ten points for the first and five points for the fourth - something like this - so it's still quite difficult to get back all the points that we have lost during the season. So it's possible but I don't know, I want to win races now, so I'm not thinking of the championship.

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: Same, really. You've got to take it race by race and see what happens. I've got to make sure I finish every race and take good points home and if you can win a race, go for the win, if you can finish second, finish second. When you get to the end of the season, you see where you are. It's very difficult to say which way it's going to go.

Ralf SCHUMACHER: Basically the same. Simply, you have to finish every race and score the points and see where you are, and hopefully win as many as possible. To win races? The package has been brilliant recently. I have been quick in the last five races, so I wonder what I should change, so I guess we have reasonably good chances to win races this year.

Michael SCHUMACHER: I guess everybody sitting here have their opportunities and possibilities to win the race because we have all been so close together that it's very difficult to predict, but at least we all have the opportunity.

Kimi RAIKKONEN: I guess it's as good as any of the other guys. Like they say, it's difficult to catch up even seven points but as long as we keep scoring good points and hopefully more than the others it's fine.

Q: Kimi, how do you feel about the new car situation? Are we likely to see it, or are you just as happy to continue with the old car?

Raikkonen: Actually I'm quite happy with the car that we have now, with the 17D. OK, it's up to the team if they make the decision to bring the new car or not but I think it's (the 17D) quite good enough still to win races as long as you get everything right in a race week. OK, it's always difficult but it's good enough.

Q: Do you have any say whether you want the new car or not?

Raikkonen: No. Like I say, I'm happy with what we're doing now and we'll let the team do whatever they want.

Q: Michael, first of all, football yesterday, lots of people, high scoring match, how did you enjoy it?

M.Schumacher: Yes, every year it's a great event, I have to say. It's organized very well and it has established itself even better. We've had good players there, a full stadium, a good atmosphere, so I was really impressed with the way it was and it was great fun for me.

Q: An interesting rumour from the German press about Jacques Villeneuve moving to Ferrari in the future; what do you think of that?

M.Schumacher: I have no feelings about that honestly. There have been plenty of rumours and we know the media, how easy it is to make a rumour so it's probably one of them. I don't see any seriousness in that honestly. I think we want to improve our situation?

Q: Ralf, it has been suggested that you are looking for a long-term contract with Williams, that Willi Weber is looking to sort that out. Is that happening? What are your feelings about it?

R.Schumacher: It is difficult to say at the moment. My contract only finishes at the end of next year so it is far too early to talk about it.

Q: But at this stage surely you could sign an extension to it?

R.Schumacher: I don't know. We haven't really talked to each other yet. There's no necessity, is there?

Q: So you are just happy to see it out for the moment?

R.Schumacher: Yes, I am happy where I am, hopefully we will have a good season and then we'll see.

Q: Juan Pablo, a similar question. There have been things in the press about you being offered a contract by McLaren.

Montoya: Well, there are always rumours about it, rumours one way or the other but at the moment I have a contract with Williams until the end of '04 and then after that we will have to wait and see what happens. There's still 2003.

Q: So you would say there is no truth in it?

Montoya: No, not really.

Q: Rubens, obviously fresh from your win at Silverstone. Apparently it was well received in Brazil even if you didn't have the trophy sadly - what happened?

Barrichello: There was a big confusion in the airport when I left because the flight was cancelled and in the middle of the big mess somebody just went over the trophy and it went down. I have got all the pieces but there are a lot of pieces.

Q: Are you having a new one made?

Barrichello: Yes. I hope so.

Q: What did Brazil think about the win?

Barrichello: Like always, either you are very good or you are shit. So this time I was very good. (Laughter).

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: Michael and Rubens, Formula One in your countries is very popular but it is also popular throughout the world. What is it about Formula One that makes it more popular than any other form of motorsport?

M.Schumacher: I guess it starts with the fact that most human beings love cars and Formula One is the ultimate speed for car racing, the highest competition you have in car racing and I guess it is the main reason why it is loved so much. It gives very entertaining races over a long time of life as I remember and it has grown in popularity.

Barrichello: I think in Brazil Formula One is as popular as football because since the 1970s when there were the championships that Pele won and so on, football was even more known than Formula One but I think in Brazil because of the TV recognition you can see Formula One is the main thing. You can try all the different categories but Formula One is the main thing people like to watch. Even though we have some races that are quite bad in terms of audience, the last race was phenomenal, so Formula One is still on top.

Q: For all the drivers: do you think this World Championship would have been so close without the new regulations?

R.Schumacher: I don't think it is down to the regulations. Maybe part of it, but I think in my opinion it is down to the teams; performances were a bit weak. At the beginning of the season one team was pretty strong, then came another team and all of a sudden it is us stepping into it and that's part of the reason. And if anything the points system helps it a bit but I don't think that the qualifying actually changed the results.

M.Schumacher: Yup, I feel that except for qualifying, you can maybe argue that the new rules do change positions but at the end of the race it all comes back to a normal situation and that is not due to the rules.

Q: Was that the situation at Silverstone, do you think, that the two safety car periods had massed up the order so much that you had quicker people coming through from the back which made a much more exciting race.

M.Schumacher: Yeah, but this was nothing to do with the rules. That is another subject. Put simply, racing and fighting for position and why we have such a close championship is simply because everyone is much closer together.

Raikkonen: The same. I think nobody knows really. Is it really the new rules or something else because we will never know. I guess the teams are, like Michael says, much more close together now and it makes it more interesting.

Barrichello: I think it has changed in a way - for the better or for the worse - it has changed. I don't personally think that we have to calculate the points with the other rules because that is not the way it is going to be. I think we just have to enjoy the new rules as much as we can right now. It is different, but I don't think Silverstone was because of the new rules, it was just because of the safety car and it was a bit of a mess in the middle of the race, and that made it more exciting.

Montoya: The same.

Q: Michael and Rubens, at Silverstone the characteristics of the circuit suited your car. Here is a little different, there aren't so many high speed corners. Do you think it will be harder race between you and Williams and McLaren?

M.Schumacher: I don't know honestly. You may think that way, but I think since we have done quite a significant step forward with the car side from Silverstone onwards I believe that that's not really the case, that it is true to justify this profile. Let's wait and see.

Barrichello: We made the improvement after Magny-Cours, so I think that even so, we think it's going to be very competitive. We've made an improvement, it remains to be seen. Of course, Silverstone was quite good for us but, as it was here last year; it was quite good as well so by making an improvement, I hope it's enough.

Q: It's for Kimi. You are in a slightly different situation from all the other guys here because you are the only driver in your team having a realistic chance to win the championship. Could it be an advantage for you?

Raikkonen: Er, no. I don't really know. I think that in one way it could be easier to have David in the fight, and the points going more to different people but I don't think it makes a big difference.

Q: Michael, you drive one of the best cars in the world. If you had a chance, just for fun, to try a different kind of racing car, just for testing, what would you like to do?

M.Schumacher: I would like to drive a better car. I don't know any. As a racing driver, you like to improve yourself and find new challenges and I don't think there's anything beyond Formula One, at least for me.

Q: A question for all the drivers; the championship is much more interesting for all us on this side of the microphone; how much more interesting is it for you, because it's so much more close, there's more competition, five of you pitching for it?

M.Schumacher: I guess we have different opinions here this time. To some degree a fight is always great but honestly I didn't mind the last three years either.

R.Schumacher: Well, for me, I don't know. I've always said that realistically there is a theoretical chance, but obviously, Silverstone has proven how quickly the chance goes away. So I'm just trying to score as many points as possible and not concentrating on the championship.

Montoya: I think it's pretty good. I think you have to really wait and see how far it goes. We've still got five to go, so I think it will be really interesting if it can go all the way, I think for the fans. Whoever is leading probably wants to finish it before, but everybody else probably wants to finish before that.

Barrichello: I think it's quite interesting for us, as well. It's not the fact of who's going to win at the end, it's the fact that we have different winners in different races. It's made it quite interesting. You can see that from the public, we can see it from our point of view: we have more racing. You could go home saying 'I didn't have a good qualifying lap but tomorrow I could be OK' and it's not every day it's like Silverstone, but you know, if you have overtaking, you can be happy. I think it's quite interesting for us as well.

Raikkonen: Um, yeah. Of course it's a new situation for me but it's an interesting season. OK, it's very difficult and hard, but I guess that's what makes it more interesting for all of us.

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