AUGUST 15, 2004
HUNGARIAN GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - 15 AUGUST 2004
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h35m26.131s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h35m30.827s (+4.696s)
3. Fernando ALONSO (RENAULT), 1h36m10.730s (+44.599s)
Q: Michael, superlatives are running out. You are the first man ever to have won 12 races in one season and, in so doing, you have helped to secure the constructors' championship for Ferrari.
Michael SCHUMACHER: I think the latter one is more important one which we should talk about. To win in the style we have done after the way we, in a way, lost last year is something which shows why we are winning the constructors' championship so early because everybody is just so great and deserves this win and after even a superb start to the season everybody still kept going. We had this very important test in Jerez where Bridgestone, our partners, ourselves, Shell came up with new solutions and they worked very well for us in Hockenheim and in particular here and that's the result, that's why we are there and we have been able to turn around from last year to that great result.
Q: It is your second Grand Slam of the year, you started from pole position, led every lap, set the fastest lap. What are your thoughts on the race today? From the outside, I had to say, it looked easy.
Schumacher: It's probably the way it looks from the outside but as the circuit is quite demanding it is not so easy. The easy part started after the last pit stop when I had a safe margin. Then I was driving safely but before that I was pushing and Rubens was pushing me as well. That was driving to the limit and I have to say that the car does perform very well. It drives around this difficult circuit superbly well. That's why maybe it looks so good. But inside there is a little bit more work than very often it looks outside.
Q: Not much overtaking from a racing point of view but a lot of overtaking in terms of the number of cars on the track today that you lapped.
Schumacher: Yeah, a lot of lapping was going on. Unfortunately a couple of guys didn't seem to respect the blue flags very well. But honestly, it's difficult here in Hungary to find the right spot to move over. The point is that Hungary, anyway, is a circuit where it is difficult to pass unless a much faster car is coming from the back and then can work its way through as my brother did last year. You can't really expect overtaking and that was the case this year.
Q: Rubens, a good start but a lot of defence going into the first corner too, obviously from Fernando but also from Juan Pablo (Montoya) quite near you.
Barrichello: It was actually difficult to see everything that was going on behind me. I actually had a good start and I think that is part of the rain yesterday that cleaned our side a little bit, so I had a good one, I was just following Michael. It was difficult to know where Michael was going to break because I had to defend myself and even try to overtake him if I could. But it worked OK. At the end I didn't have a chance to go for an overtaking manoeuvre on Michael but I had the chance to keep my position because that was also the main thing, because otherwise he (Alonso) could have damaged my race, so it was really good. Then after that we were just running at our own pace.
Q: How did the car react to the various sets of tyres? Was the balance more or less the same throughout the race.
Barrichello: Well, I had a small problem on my third set, with a bit of graining and it wasn't going away. The first, the second and the fourth sets were very much perfect. I had a great time. Unfortunately I couldn't run Michael's pace, he was on his own. I pushed him a little when he was about nine seconds (ahead), we were running the same pace. Maybe I was fractionally faster at that time, but the third set was just too slow and by the fourth set the race was really finished anyway, but the car was back to behaving very well.
Q: Fernando, a great drive but a lonely drive for you, but let's talk about that start - fantastic again away from the line.
Alonso: Yeah, it was good. Again at the start I got blocked a little bit by Sato. He tried to close the door a bit and I had to lift off a little bit and probably because of that I lost second place, because I arrived quite close to Rubens but not enough. And after that, the race was quite calm, not very much - there was nothing in the front and nothing in the back, just controlling the gaps and as they said, a lot of traffic, a lot of people lapping which made it a little bit difficult.
Q: A good result in terms of beating BAR Honda, BMW Williams, your nearest opposition in recent races. If you had managed to get in front of Rubens, how do you think it would have gone?
Alonso: Nothing would have changed, probably. On the pit stops, I think they were much faster than us and even if I started second, in one of the opportunities in the pit stop, if they stopped two laps sooner or later, they should have overtaken me, but it would have been more interesting if I had started second.
Q: Michael, how do you do it? It just goes on and on. You seem to be enjoying your racing more and success comes to you, it appears, even more easily.
Schumacher: It's just everything goes so well. It's a great atmosphere we have in the team and the good thing about Formula One is that it's always going forward. We always have new things coming, new things to expect and automatically they increase your motivation extremely. And particularly after being here last year and not doing very well, knowing our work was so good, it was a good feeling throughout the break. I had great preparation and I pushed very hard during that phase just to be really spot on and ready for the race. It just keeps going and I like to enjoy it as long as it does. One day it will finish and we all know that.
Q: An historic day for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, can you both tell us what it means for you to win this 14th constructors' title for Ferrari
Schumacher: It is the 14th but it's the sixth in the row and that's what is so outstanding about it. And it's the way we did it, it's already again so dominant, just so perfect. If you see the reliability statistic, and everything as a whole, it is just outstanding. It is great to live in that time and to be a part of that period and that success. We just enjoy it as long as can.
Barrichello: For me I think it's even more special because since I have been there we have been World Champions so I think it's phenomenal. I think Michael has had difficult times at Ferrari building the team. I've been there when the work (has been done) and it's been fantastic. It's been our work together inside the track in terms of set-up and the pressure we put into each other just improving ourselves so much and they return the work. The cars have been phenomenal. Just as Michael said, the reliability is just unbelievable. We never stop. It's really phenomenal.
Q: Michael, a fantastic race today. In this room on Thursday we heard some Michelin competitors saying that they felt that possibly Michelin could have success here this weekend. They were a long way from it. To what extent has the new Bridgestone made a big difference?
Schumacher: Honestly, we have been doing the Jerez test and there were quite a few competitors there and we could just (compare) their performance against our performance, particularly when it was hot, and the work paid out. We could see there that we would have a very good opportunity here. In a way, after Friday, I was a bit concerned over the qualifying performance but I didn't have much concern about the race performance because that was very clearly very good.
Q: Was concentration ever a problem here, because you were never really fighting closely with anybody else?
Schumacher: You think so? I didn't have Rubens down my neck, but here it was four or five seconds before the first pit stop and you never know which way the race will turn. You have a little bit of traffic and I did have a couple of times where I lost time. You have to keep going and for sure, the first three stints were flat out. Then I had a comfortable cushion after Rubens struggled with one of his tyres and then I could take it easy but up to that point we were both going for it and even having ten seconds, I don't rely on ten seconds. It's so easy to make a mistake here, to run wide and to lose them immediately. So you just have to be concentrated, stay on line and keep pushing at the same time and find that right compromise. But thanks to the package I had available today - with tyres, car and so on - it made my life much easier than it was last year. It's funny, I go so much quicker, but in a way, I can keep the concentration much easier because it's so much more predictable to drive this year.
Q: You could win the drivers' championship in Spa, it would be possible, or would you prefer to wait and do it in front of your home fans in Italy?
Schumacher: Both races have an attraction to win the drivers' championship if I could do so. Spa obviously has a lot of special meaning to me, it's very close to my home as well. Obviously Monza, Italy, has a different attraction that explains itself. If I have a possibility I will go for one or the other, we find out but whether it's going to happen, that's another story. But mathematically, Rubens still has a chance and he will go for that.
Q: The only problem that seemed to happen in the Ferrari pits today - and I don't know if you know about it - was a problem with the refuelling rig. I don't know if it was a problem with either of the cars. Do you know anything about it?
Q: Rubens, yourself, how hard were you pushing?
Schumacher: Well, as everyone probably knows already I had a different tyre to Michael and I knew that I would go into a period that he could probably clear his graining a little bit earlier so I had to keep on pushing to see where I was going. I was nicely surprised that my tyres on the first stint cleared quite rapidly and I kept on pushing - even though Michael was still faster, he wasn't by much so we kept that four seconds. After the first pit stop I came out something like six seconds behind so I lost out a little bit. Kept on pushing, pushing and it was OK. I lost time a little due to traffic, but my third set was the one that never cleared out so I really lost time with that set, because when I went to the last set, even though we were not pushing that much any more, the car felt fantastic again and I was able to - it was probably my fastest set if I could push because the track was giving the rubber and the grip was there, so it was nice to drive again.
Q: Fernando, do you think that Michelin had a chance this weekend?
Alonso: I thought so before I came here but, as Michael said, after the Friday sessions if you looked at the times we knew it would be almost impossible to follow them in the race, probably, and maybe in qualifying. And I think we were not competitive enough here to beat them.
Q: Your team-mate stopped on the start-finish straight there. Was that a worry, was that something you were told about?
Alonso: When I saw Jarno stop there I asked the team what was the problem and then after that I was a little worried about the revs and things but they were totally confident and the team is still doing a fantastic job on the driveability of the car and even if Jarno stopped today I think there was not much worry about my engine.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson - Mike Doodson Associates) Michael, you have been very generous all weekend about the contribution made by your tyre company and by Shell. You've told us a bit about the tyres, now we know there are very strict regulations about the fuel. Can you please tell us the way Shell have been able to help Ferrari?
Schumacher: Basically they have done the most difficult step, which is to give us more power, to give us better reliability and to give us a better fuel consumption and therefore to open the window a little bit in terms of strategy. That is a tremendous success, as you specifically mentioned, that the window is pretty narrow but Shell is a great company and obviously they push very hard in all the areas they do. They work with us together and obviously in lubricants we have improved a lot over the year, but not recently, but you can always expect something with them.
Q: (Pedro Fermin Flores Martin - ABC) Rubens, you are now the only man who can fight against Michael for the drivers title. What will happen from now on?
Barrichello: Well, it's probably the same. It might seem like today I was happy with second and I just went out and I knew that I was going to finish second but it wasn't. I think the way I have been working with the team and with myself, I have been improving every time. I had a season that was very good in the beginning, then I had a few ups and downs but having said that I have always come to the track thinking I can win. Yesterday I had a good qualifying, I almost did the job, and again, if I had started from pole position I might have won the race today. So, just keep going. Spa is a racing track that I like. The probability is much lower, of course, you have to be realistic, no fantasies. Michael is really far away from everybody in terms of points, but until there is (not) a chance, there is always a chance.
Q: (Peter Farkas- Auto Motor) Michael and Rubens, what's next? We have five races to go, the constructors' title is yours, Michael has the drivers' title virtually in his bag, will you use the remaining races to try something for next year or how will it be?
Barrichello: Well, I think we just keep on trying. There is no next. The pleasure of driving the car and to drive forward with the team, the work we are putting together, I don't think there is anything we could try and prove for next year yet, just keep on trying. For Michael, probably the next race, in Spa, is very important for him. For me, the last one (Brazil) is going to the most important one, and that's my main effort, to keep on trying to see if I can win the race. That's going to be the main opportunity of my life.
Q: (Karoly Mehes - Uj Dunantuli Naplo) Fernando, do you think that realistically Hungary was the last place that you could catch Ferrari or how do you see the remaining races?
Alonso: No, I think we will have more opportunities to win races. We thought that Hungary was probably the best place, also we believe Suzuka can be good for our car, but I think, for example, we arrived in Canada with not many expectations and we were extremely competitive there, so I think we will have more success, hopefully.
Q: (Marco Evangelisti - Corriere dello Sport) Fernando, you are the only team to beat Michael once so far and you are the championship runners-up. Do you think next year you and Giancarlo will have a realistic possibility to fight Ferrari for the world title?
Alonso: It's a bit too early to know but we are working on that. We know that Ferrari have been world champions for six years in a row and are the team to beat and all the remaining teams will work hard over the winter to build new cars competitive enough to beat them and, yeah, it's always difficult. But next year Giancarlo is coming, the team is working so hard, the engine side will be 100 percent because this year we changed engine and it was completely new so for next year we have much more confidence in the engine side. The chassis will be ready as well and probably to have the chance to beat Ferrari next year we have a little bit of help from Michelin. If we want to beat them, I am sure that this year we improved a lot, we are second in the constructors' championship but we are a little bit far away from the tyres point of view, we were a little bit down in most of the races.
Q: (Pedro Fermin Flores Martin) Fernando, from the time that Jarno said he would not be your team-mate next year, do you feel you are alone fighting for second position for Renault?
Alonso: No. I think from the day that Jarno said he was leaving the team and Renault decided to change driver I think nothing changed in the team. Jarno is still very competitive. He had a little bit of bad luck today but, you know, I also had bad luck in the past. I should have been on the podium in Monaco and I had four retirements and now because I am on the podium everything seems a little bit changed around. Jarno is not in the first places but I am sure in Spa we will fight again and Jarno and me will put all our effort to finish with Renault in second place and I am sure we can do it.
Q: Fernando, it seemed you had a problem with tyre graining. Was it the case and was it part of the reason you couldn't catch these two guys?
Alonso: I had tyre graining in the third and fourth sets, the first two were perfectly okay and I was one second slower than them so that was not the reason to not beat Ferrari this weekend. I think all the Michelin runners suffered a little bit too much from graining this weekend as well.
Q: (Mike Doodson) Rubens, I have asked you at a previous race about the choice of tyres. Was the choice of the soft tyre yours or was it the team's and secondly you are not looking quite as cheerful as you usually do after a race like this - possibly something to do with your beard, perhaps - but could that choice of tyre perhaps have wrecked your chances of bringing the race to Michael this weekend?
Barrichello: I am just feeling like having a Coke, that's all. If someone could bring one to me my smile would be back, so that's all. The choice of the tyres, I was the one who brought it up because I felt better on Friday with that tyre. The team analysed that situation and they said it was okay. Obviously Michael was happier with the other set of tyres. I had in mind that I could have some problems with graining at the start of the race but with the grip of the track coming up I would have the better tyre. I think that really happened but it was too late. I think the rain yesterday cleared all the rubber possible that I might have had in the middle of the race rather than at the end of the race. But not everything that you want happens. But I was quite happy with the decision with the tyre, it was not a case that they put it to me and I had to accept it. I liked the decision.
Q: Michael, recently there have been some public discussions about changing the regulations in the sport, so speaking about the future of the sport, do you have any ideas of how to change something in the sport? I used to speak to Marc Surer, a former driver, and he has some ideas of his own. Can we have yours?
Schumacher: You see, that is the point. I think all of us have ideas how we can improve Formula One and all of us believe they are right. But you have to come to a conclusion and that's difficult. If you have ten people you have ten ideas and that is why I think it's very important that you have the right groups to analyse and to make the right decisions and, in a way, this process is in place. We, as drivers, we give our input in the areas we are competent to answer and to give advice. We have had a meeting with (FIA President) Max Mosley and we are in direct contact with the FIA but there's only certain things we should be talking about and others we shouldn't. That's what we do.
Q: (Velimir Veljko Jukic - Auto Fokus) Mr Schumacher, we can see you today in half an hour in two different states of mind. Half an hour ago you were showing so much emotion. Now you are a little bit controlled. Can you control your emotions as well as the power of your Ferrari? So when you start to show emotions you show it to the top and when it is not time to show emotions you can control it as perfectly as we can see you now and many, many times before.
Schumacher: I think there is quite a difference between half an hour ago and now. Half an hour ago, I was outside with all the people, particularly with my team, celebrating, being full of joy. Now I come in here and we are all very calm and we have a press conference, so I think it is quite different circumstances and in a way we adapt to the circumstances.
Q: (Velimir Veljko Jukic) Is it easier to control your emotion or the power of your Ferrari?
Schumacher: It is nothing about control. If I would jump around here you would think, well, he is a little bit bananas!