MONACO GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE

23 MAY 2004

1. Jarno TRULLI (RENAULT), 1h45m46.601s
2. Jenson BUTTON (BAR HONDA), 1h45m47.098s (+ 0.497s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h47m02.367s (+ 75.766s)

TV UNILATERALS

Q: Jarno a truly historic occasion: your first win, Renault's first win as a team at Monte Carlo, and the first win by an Italian here for 22 years. The pressure at the end of the race was outstanding as well...

Jarno TRULLI: It's amazing at the moment: I'm so happy, for me, for everybody, for all those people who have been supporting me. I have been waiting for so long and it came at the best race, Monaco. It was just fantastic for me. I drove a perfect race, leading from the beginning, and even with Michael on the track, I would have won anyway because I had already pitted and in the end I was just managing the race. I was slowing down, taking care of my tyres and everything, not taking any risks, because anyway I know that in Monaco you cannot overtake.

Q: Talk us through the closing stages of the race there. Jenson got very very close at the end there.

Trulli: It was just down to me, honestly. When I wanted, I just responded to the quickest lap time, but then in the end there was no point in taking any risks, I was just handling the race. He closed the gap, but he couldn't get close enough to try to overtake, so everything was under control.

Q: Well you seemed very calm and composed, what were your thoughts and emotions in those closing laps, and particularly on the slowing down lap as well?

Trulli: Everything was going through my mind. I have been waiting for so long, I've been through a lot of bad moments and at the moment I just cannot realise that I won the race and I've won in Monaco, probably the best race in the world, so I'm happy. Nothing's going to change for me, I will keep going as I've done for the first part of this championship and I'm so happy for me, but also especially for the Renault team.

Q: Jenson, what a race from your point of view.

Jenson BUTTON: Yeah. Off the line I didn't get a very good start and I lost out to Alonso, and then it was really tough. The traffic was so tough, the back markers, but in the last stint, when I was behind Jarno, I know that you can't overtake here, but I had to give everything I possibly could and maybe push him into a mistake. I know he wasn't pushing 100 per cent but you've got to try. I had the possibility of hitting the guardrail, but I want to win so much, so I was pushing as hard as I possibly could.

Q: We saw a lot of incidents in this race; one of the major ones of course was Michael Schumacher hitting the guardrail in the tunnel. Did you see any of that?

Button: No, because I had already had my pit stop, so I was seven or eight cars back but it was very strange. It's slippery in the tunnel anyway. We normally go through there at 160 mph and you have so much downforce that you don't have a problem with the slippery asphalt, but when you're going that slowly it is very very slippery.

Q: Both you and Jarno had two stops; did the amount of safety car time affect your strategy?

Button: When Alonso hit the barriers in the tunnel, obviously we pitted immediately and I think it was the correct thing to do so. I think if Michael had stayed on circuit I think we would have been ahead when he had made his stop. The team did a fantastic strategy but we couldn't catch this man.

Q: Rubens, a distant third place but third place nonetheless. You didn't come in when the safety car came out; what was the thinking behind that?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: We had a lot of fuel on board at that time. I must be honest, I was very lucky today, just to finish the race, because there was a point in the race when I started to lock the wheels and I felt that something had happened to the rear suspension and so when the safety car came out, I had the chance to go slowly beside the pit wall to see if they (the mechanics) could see something because I was hitting the ground quite badly and I was locking the wheels as if the car wasn't behaving quite right from left to right. So it was just a question of going round and round just to finish the race really. There was no point in pushing because something must have broken on the car.

Q: What did you see of Michael's incident in the tunnel?

Barrichello: I was further behind, so I couldn't see anything. All of a sudden I saw some pieces flying and then I saw Michael slowing down with the suspension (broken). Nothing that I could have seen.

Q: And what about the Sato engine blow-up early in the race?

Barrichello: Umm. To be very honest with you, I thought that they should have put a flag out for him before because there were already three laps when he was already pushing out too much smoke out of the engine or out of the gearbox. Something was happening there, it was obvious. There was major drama. I got the (my) car just as I was going into the guardrail. I was zero per hour but I would have damaged my car because you could see absolutely nothing.

Q: Jarno, final thoughts from you: you started from the pole and you've won the Monaco Grand Prix. It must be starting to sink in now.

Trulli: It's fine, it's nice to dominate the weekend. I think it's been a faultless weekend. I'm extremely happy because it's the best way to win the race, to be on top the whole weekend.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Jarno, could you believe at the start of the weekend that you might be sitting in the middle this afternoon?

Trulli: First of all, I would like to thank everybody: English, French, journalists from all over the world, because you have been so nice to me, and I really appreciate the fact that I had a very warm welcome. It's really appreciated, so thank you. (Applause). To be honest, you always have to believe you can do it and I knew that I had a good car. The Renault is really doing very well and we are gradually improving the car, but obviously you never know, because this year has been dominated by Ferrari so far. You always hope that you can do it, but you never know until you get there and actually when we hit the track at the beginning of the session on Thursday, we figured out that we were competitive but you don't know how far you can go.

Q: Is it a great weight off your shoulders, a great relief?

Trulli: Definitely. I've been talking about this with Jenson as well. When things go wrong and you cannot do much about it it's tough but you have to be strong and you have to be stubborn and you have to believe and trust in yourself. This is what I've done, and finally I've got it, I got my first pole and my first victory. At the beginning of the season I said I was still looking for it. I got both together and it's fantastic, especially here in Monaco. At the moment, I feel great. I don't want to change, I won't change anything. I will probably just be more confident but life doesn't change for me, it's just a little satisfaction.

Q: Now tell us about the start, it seemed to be perfect?

Trulli: I did a good start and from then on I tried to push and pull away and actually I was doing a good job. The fact that the safety car came out didn't help me because I knew I had the pace to pull away, so I had eight laps wasted and then the other factor which really penalised me throughout the race were the backmarkers, they were really bad. I lost several seconds per lap sometimes because they were just ignoring us. Jenson had the same problem, most of us had the same problem, but when you're leading, you are the first to hit the backmarkers and you are the first to lose, most of the time.

Q: How hard was Fernando pushing you?

Trulli: It was OK, he was just a couple of seconds behind me. Sometimes he was pushing me but then I eventually responded to him, pulling away but the problem was that I lost so much time with the traffic that every time I was pulling away he always got the gap back again. I knew I was quicker, I knew that I should have to pit and therefore when I came out ahead of him at the last pit stop the race was done. Then we had the second safety car and the thing changed a little bit but in general, the race was in my hands from the beginning.

Q: And you felt perfectly in control when Jenson was up behind you?

Trulli: Yeah, I mean I knew that he was trying to catch me up and I knew that his idea was to put pressure on me. But on a circuit like Monaco, you cannot overtake. I actually responded to him with some quick laps without taking any risks, just to show the team that I was not panicking, I had everything in hand. I just didn't want to take any risks. So many things have gone wrong for me in the past and I wanted to make sure that I got my first victory with a faultless race.

Q: And it's just so special to do it here, isn't it?

Trulli: Yes, Monaco is so special. It was yesterday for the pole position. In my head, there was this idea to win the race, and I had the idea to pull away from the beginning and I did exactly what I expected to do.

Q: Jenson, it looked as though you were trying so hard, particularly on the last lap. I think you had a couple of moments on the last lap, didn't you?

Button: I did, yeah, and I also had a backmarker on the last lap which didn't help, but you've got to push as hard as you possibly can and I was giving 100 percent. Every lap was a qually (qualifying) lap because I wanted to try and catch Jarno to see if I could put him under pressure. It didn't work, because he was obviously driving very well, he was taking it a little bit easier but you've got to try.

Q: Was it very frustrating when Michael overtook you on the pit stops?

Button: It was very frustrating, because I was really struggling with traffic. I was sat behind Da Matta for three and a half laps which was just... I've never seen anything like it, I really haven't. They took a lap to get their blue flags out but he had blue flags for two and a half laps. So no, I'll be having a word with him afterwards because it's just not on. It was pathetic.

Q: He was penalised later on anyway...

Button: Oh did he? Good.

Q: Takuma obviously had his big problem; was that conveyed to you? Did you have to take any action?

Button: No, I didn't ease up at all throughout the race and everything was running smoothly, I didn't have any problems. The team didn't actually tell me what actually happened with the car. There was no reason to, really, except to be careful, obviously, where he broke down.

Q: What about the start, how was that?

Button: Terrible. I didn't feel I could have done anything else. I thought I had made a pretty good start, and then I saw Alonso fly by me and Taku was right behind me, so it was pretty hectic at the first corner but I came out third which wasn't too bad, and then it was just to try and stay with the two Renaults which I was doing pretty well until I pitted on lap nineteen and they carried on for another four or something.

Q: Rubens, I expect you wanted a bit more for your birthday than third place but all in all you must be fairly happy with it.

Barrichello: Yeah, like I said in the other room, I've been so lucky today and I think that's the present that I got from God because the car didn't behave at all in the way we thought. There was one time when I was going into Casino Square and the car just hit the ground badly and I locked the outside wheel just like if I had a puncture. I radioed to the team saying 'I'm coming in, I have a puncture' and the car felt reasonable to finish that lap, although I was locking the wheels strangely. Something must have broken on the rear suspension or something but because I had the gap to Montoya, they said if I could do (1m ) twenties, we would still be OK and then we could carry on for a few more laps, bring you in earlier and just try another set of tyres. But even though with the other set the car got better, it was very strange because it was hitting the ground and it wasn't doing things nicely from one side to the other so I was just a passenger. Today I've been very lucky. I'm not even sweating, because I really had to carry the car around just to finish my run.

Q: You were overtaken by Montoya early on, what happened then?

Barrichello: You know after the safety car period the pace was really slow, I had cold tyres at that time and he risked everything and I thought he was going straight on actually. So I thought that there was no point for me to close the door and lose my nose or something. From the beginning it looked like it was going to be a race of lots of moments. When Sato exploded his engine it was very dangerous and the backmarkers were horrible today. It was a race just to keep on going. With the problems that I had, it was difficult to keep the car on the track. With the others, I wasn't even worried.

Q: Was that right from the start, your problem? Did you make contact with anything?

Barrichello: No, no, no. When I started I had a reasonable start but Takuma was already gone, so we must learn from him what he's doing because I was still stationary when he went by, so I didn't know if he anticipated the start or something like that. It was really strange. My car wasn't behaving very nicely, but twenty laps into the race, that thing happened so there was no point in pushing.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates) Jenson, you have been Jarno's team-mate. Can you tell us something about him from your point of view, perhaps give us some indication of his devotion to his job?

Button: I don't normally comment on drivers too much but yeah, Jarno was a good team-mate and he was also very quick here. I remember pushing as hard as I could here two years ago and being a few tenths off him, which is difficult really, I didn't know where the time was. But no, he is quick here and I think he is very devoted. He does a lot of training - that's what I've heard in the press! And obviously he has now proved he is a race winner.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jarno, in the tunnel when Schumacher crashed you were just behind Montoya. What did you see?

Trulli: Well, to be honest, it is so difficult to comment. I just saw both of them accelerating and warming their tyres up and locking both tyres. I think they were just trying to warm the tyres up and they just didn't get it right and while Schumacher was slowing down Montoya was accelerating. Montoya tried to slow down, get on the inside to avoid the crash but at the same time I think Michael was pulling to the right, the inside, and they both collided and then that was it. It was very strange.

Q: (Alastair Moffitt - PA News) For all three of the drivers, how important is it for Formula One as a sport not just to see a different winner but to have such an exciting race?

Trulli: It is always interesting to see different people on top and I think so far this Monte Carlo race has been nice for me. I think in general this race was interesting because so many things have gone on, we have got a new winner, different podium finishers, but, honestly, I am just driving and trying to do my best.

Button: It is obviously good for the sport. This is a race that a lot of people watch and it has got to really help the sport to have a different winner. I didn't know the race was that exciting because I didn't really see that many people on the same lap as me but, yeah, if the race is exciting then that's good again. On a circuit that you can't overtake on, if you can have an exciting race then I think we have all got to look forward to the Nurburgring.

Barrichello: Well, a different winner with the same red car would have been very nice! (Laughter) But, after all, I think everyone said, it was just an eventful race, there were lots of things going on and I think the television people must have liked it.

Q: (Randy Philipps - The Gazette) Jenson, as one of the most consistent performers of the year so far, how do you assess your own performance compared to last year?

Button: Oh, I think I have come a long way. Not driving, so much, but putting in a lot more time really with the team. We are a very close team and that has improved over the last year and a half. We are a team on the up, we are still a young team, learning all the time, but I think we are doing pretty well at the moment. Our strategies seem to be working very well and the whole team are performing as they should do. It is just time really, we need more time to be able to improve and get close to the Ferraris, I think. When we go to the Nurburgring they are going to be very strong.

Q: (Randy Philipps) How close do you feel to the win? Can you smell it?

Button: Well, I was pretty close, you know. (Turns to Trulli) I could smell your gearbox actually - it stank through the race! But yeah, I crossed the line and I was happy to be second but you are second and there is one person who finished in front. I wanted a win, but I can take away second and I will be pretty happy and have a good night tonight. And roll on the next race. You know, it's great to have two second places under my belt and two thirds. The championship is pretty strong for me. It's very good.

Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Jarno, in the procedure behind the safety car of warming up the brakes and the tyres, how difficult is it for the guy behind to anticipate what the guy in front is doing? How dangerous is it?

Trulli: Basically, to be honest, what I try to do is keep away from the guy in front of me and have a couple of cars' distance. But Montoya was not doing it, but on the other hand Michael was obviously trying to warm up the tyres. It is difficult to say who was at fault, it really just happened, and I tried to keep away from this incident. I saw that something was going on because they were so close, going really fast down to the Mirabeau, and, in the end, it has happened in the tunnel. And, you know, it was something that I thought 'oh, maybe they are going to crash' and they did.

Button: The problem is, to me it seems, that especially on a circuit like this we are using a lot of brakes, more than before because the tyres are getting softer and softer and you have got more downforce. You are using your brakes a lot more than you were in the past so we are having to run harder material and to warm the brakes up is so difficult, it really is. I have really struggled with that all weekend.

Q: (Paolo Ianieri) Jenson, do you think you can have a chance to win at the Nurburgring? Is it a track that might be good for your car?

Button: I think our cars work pretty well everywhere and we should have a chance. But the Renaults are going to be really strong and we need to work out why do we lose, or why do I lose, off the line? Why I am not getting a good start? Maybe it's my reactions, but I don't think it is. Because if I qualify on pole, for example, I won't be leading in the race at the first corner, but I am sure we can sort that problem out.

Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Jarno, do you think that this victory for a non-Ferrari team was an exception, that we are not going to see it any more, and how much was this victory down to the tyres?

Trulli: Well, I wish to myself and I wish to Formula One that we have different winners in the future because otherwise it can be a little bit boring. At the moment, this is what you have been asking for. Today, actually, we got a different winner and I hope we can stop the Ferrari domination a little bit. Ferrari are still the best team with the best car and the best driver and they are the men to beat. But everyone else is working very hard and there is no reason why we cannot win. Today it is my turn, maybe next time it can be Rubens or Jenson or anyone else. I mean, we all go out to win.

Q: (Hans van der Klis - Race Report) I have got a very simple question to Jenson and Jarno. Which laps were you supposed to pit for your second stop?

Button: I can't remember now. It must have been around that time.

Trulli: It's a secret!

Q: (Matt Bishop - F1 Racing) A question for all the drivers, obviously the safety car does have to slow the field but do you think that possibly the safety car slowed the field too much and maybe a faster safety car should be used?

Trulli: No, I don't think so. The safety car just has to keep the pace in certain circumstances when there is a yellow flag when there is an accident. If we have to look at the action that has happened between Montoya and Michael today, the safety car has nothing to do with it.

Barrichello: I think that it is just that Monaco is very different to the other places, to be honest. It is difficult for any other type of car to keep a higher pace and it wouldn't have made a difference. I cannot judge, because I haven't seen the accident. It was slow but it is Monaco, it is very tight and it is difficult anyway.

Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sports News) Jarno, things are going so well for you and the team, with this pole and this victory. Does it make you more determined than ever that you will be back with Renault next year?

Trulli: At the moment I feel happy about my victory. I have been always working well inside the team and to be honest I am working well with Fernando. Last year he got away with a victory and a pole position and for me it was hard because things were not coming around very well for me. But I never give up, I knew that I could do it, and today I am in the front position. I just wanted it to be the same as yesterday. I think it would be nice if I can stay with this team because we are working well after three years, we have all settled down with the engineers, the mechanics, with everybody, and we are doing an extremely good job and personally I am extremely satisfied because when I first joined the team we were not on the pace, I worked very hard to improve the car and, step by step, we are doing this job and we are getting closer to the Ferraris. For me, such a hard job is paying off and it would be nice to carry on.

Q: (Michele Merlino - Autosprint) Jenson, what happened today between Montoya and Schumacher recalled a lot what happened to you under the safety car in Italy in 2000. Is Schumacher unpredictable under the safety car or is it a matter of concentration or what?

Button: It's always difficult behind the safety car. Here it's worse, as we have mentioned, especially in the tunnel because when you are going through there very fast at 160mph you have got a lot of downforce, but when you are going slow there is no grip there because there is no circuit temperature. But I think it was just unlucky in Monza and it was just an experience more than anything else.

Q: Jenson, is it correct that during the safety car for drivers to push and brake, push and brake, when drivers at the back cannot predict the behaviour?

Button: Well, obviously, you can't brake suddenly, I don't think, and then speed off again. I don't think Michael did do that, but you do need to warm your brakes up a bit as well, so there is a fine line between what looks like brake testing and what is just warming your brakes up.

Q: (Veljko Jukic - Auto Focus) Jarno, you made a prediction two weeks ago that it is time to win Monte Carlo and you have managed to prove it. Was it some premonition or just your bravery?

Trulli: Well, I am the kind of person that never gives up. I knew that the team was growing up, in the beginning of the season we had some handling problem and straight away the team has reacted and focussed on this matter. We had some car improvement in the last two races and obviously this makes you feel more confident. After that, I am very determined and stubborn and I always think that I can do it and in the end I do it. This was my weekend. Sometimes it is not, but this was my weekend, definitely.

Q: (Veljko Julkic) Will you celebrate with champagne or with your own wine from your vineyard?

Trulli: I don't know. I am not the kind of person who celebrates after a victory. All I wish to do is to go to sleep, honestly! It has always been like this since karting and Formula Three. After the race, just relax.

Q: (Thierry Thassin - RTBF) Rubens, you mentioned you had a problem with the brakes locking the outside wheel. Do you know if your team-mate had the same problem because when the incident happened in the tunnel, he locked the outside wheel.

Barrichello: Erm, no, I don't think so, because I have asked the team if he had a problem that I should be aware of. But, just like Jenson mentioned, we had to warm the brakes quite heavily throughout the weekend just to get the temperatures right for the first lap, so I guess Michael was warming them up. I was suffering behind the pace car to keep them warm so I guess he was going through the same thing.

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