SAN MARINO GP - SATURDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE

24 APRIL 2004

1. Jenson BUTTON (BAR), 1m19.753s
2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m20.011s (+ 0.258s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m20.212s (+ 0.459s)

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Jenson, what a lap, what a fantastic lap, here on Ferrari's home soil too!

Jenson BUTTON: Thank you. It was, it was a great lap and I enjoyed it very much. In pre-qualifying I was a little wide because I had very low grip, but in proper qualifying it seemed to be all there, it seemed to be very similar to this morning's car, so I was very happy, and I don't think there were any mistakes.

Q: It looked like a perfect lap. You spoke after Bahrain, after the race, of perhaps wanting to concentrate more on the set-up for qualifying. Is that what happened here?

Button: We set the car up for the race, as everybody does but we were lacking in qualifying a little bit. I don't know why. We seemed to lose a lot of time when we got to qualifying, but here we seemed to have resolved that problem - well, obviously we have.

Q: You can't escape the atmosphere here at Imola, it is tremendous. You're on the pole for this race; describe your feelings about the race for tomorrow?

Button: I can't wait. Qualifying is one thing, but obviously winning a race is the main goal. I think that's going to be a little bit tougher than today's qualifying. But yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It's the first time in my Formula One career that I've had nobody in front of me at the start, so it's all down to me now.

Q: Michael, you were up there halfway through the lap and it just fell away a little bit as you came out of the top chicane.

Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah. As Jenson really put in a very good lap it was all or nothing and I tried very hard, and I just overdid it a little bit at that place, and actually I was lucky to keep it on the circuit and not go completely into a spin. Lucky it was just good enough for second then, and it's going to look like an interesting race for us tomorrow.

Q: Three wins in a row, looks like great weather, fantastic atmosphere: how do you see the race going tomorrow for you?

Schumacher: Indeed, I think it's going to be a very interesting race, a tight battle I believe. It's going to be interesting to see how the other cars sort themselves out into the first corner because there honestly are some potential drivers among one another and it will be interesting to see how that all works out.

Q: Juan Pablo, it was looking very good for you there in the previous session; tell us how it went in qualifying?

Juan Pablo MONTOYA: I think it went really well. As you can see, we took little fuel in the first qualifying because we wanted to run last and as you see, the track got better and it worked quite well for us. I think we've got a very good race car. I was actually lacking pace on new tyres and with the work we did it seemed to come to me a little bit. I'm very pleased to be honest. The first time I've actually out qualified Ralf here, so it's good.

Q: We're seeing a bit of a BMW Williams resurgence here now; how do you think it's going to go in the race tomorrow?

Montoya: I think we have a very strong race car. It will be interesting to see what happens really; with Jenson I think it's going to be a close battle. He put up a lot of good laps today, but I think in the race it's going to be a lot closer. And the question is how the Bridgestones are going to behave against the Michelins, but I definitely think we're in the game.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jenson congratulations. You keep breaking down these records, your own personal bests. What does this one mean?

Button: I'm pleased we've got no cars in front, which is a positive definitely. It is a fantastic feeling to get pole here especially on Ferrari's turf and I'm very pleased.

Q: It seemed that all the time came in the final sector, a full half-a-second in the final sector. Did you concentrate on that?

Button: The final sector was very good this morning. It is just trying not to overheat the tyres too much for the last sector. It was a great lap and I don't think I made a mistake anywhere round.

Q: The first two sectors were good as well?

Button: As good as I could have done. I was flat out.

Q: The final sector, that is all about keeping the rear tyres together is it, or cool?

Button: It is and there is the top chicane, which is pretty tough, which I think I have gained a lot of time over the week, but also the last chicane. Obviously you have got to be very careful through there because the kerbs are quite big and it is very easy to unsettle the car.

Q: What is the team's reaction to Michael's fairly short stints over the last couple of races? You haven't by any chance gone for a similar strategy, have you?

Button: Our strategies seem to work every race we've been to for us. We've been very strong on the last few stints and that is important for us and we are looking at the end result.

Q: Michael, obviously it all went wrong in the Variante Alta didn't it? Did you hit the kerb too hard, what happened there?

Schumacher: Honestly the time I lost over there wouldn't have been enough to beat Jenson. I think it wouldn't have been enough anyway. For me it is not a surprise because he put in a very good lap and I sort of anticipated that they would be strong here this weekend.

Q: You were two-tenths up going into the last sector...

Schumacher: Yeah but if you look all weekend we were very good in the mid-sector in particular, sort of even in the first sector and maybe a bit slower in the last sector.

Q: You didn't do a huge number of laps in the second session this morning, do you feel you were missing that little bit of track time?

Schumacher: No we're pretty happy. We've been here in the wintertime testing the car so we pretty much knew what we wanted and what we had to do. We felt there was nothing more to achieve.

Q: And in the pre-qualifying session, you felt that one was okay as well?

Schumacher: Yeah. It was low grip being again the road sweeper and it was reasonable but not perfect.

Q: I mentioned the short stints just now, the last one was nine laps in Bahrain. Do you think other drivers are going to copy that strategy?

Schumacher: Ask the other drivers. I don't know.

Q: Have you been worried that they are going to follow you and you are then going to change it all together for this race?

Schumacher: It could be. It could be that some people would like to adapt and do a certain strategy, but it is all speculation. We'll leave it open until tomorrow.

Q: Juan Pablo, did you hope you were going to be quicker after pre-qualifying?

Montoya: Not really. I said before, I was talking to my engineer and said it would be more like a 20.5 and then people start going quicker and I thought a 20.0, it was good because that's what we were expecting. It was very hard to judge. The track was getting so much quicker and ... this morning, you thought it could be a 20.9 or a 21 - you never know. Then you see Jenson's time and you go like "Jesus Christ, where am I going to pull the time?". He did a bloody good job!

Q: What's made the difference during the weekend? What sort of things have you been changing this weekend, because it seems to have got a lot better?

Montoya: Yesterday was a complete disaster. After the first session I wanted Sunday. Then working hard with the team, we came around mechanically, especially change the car completely and made bigger steps.

Q: Were you still making steps between the pre-qualifying and the qualifying?

Montoya: Not really. Pre-qualifying just put the fuel back for the race on Sunday.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport): Jenson do you remember your last pole position?

Button: No. It was a long time ago. It would have been in '99 in Formula Three. I went go-karting last year but I don't think that counts!

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport): Did you come here for the winter test?

Button: No.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport): So it was even more important?

Button: We've been here for the last four years so I've gained a lot of experience over that time. You know people have been on pole in their first season. I think it is more of an achievement for the whole team really. We're still a young team and it is an impressive goal.

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