UNITED STATES GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - POST RACE - 2 JUNE 2006
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (Ferrari), 1h34m35.199s
2. Felipe MASSA (Ferrari), 1h34m43.183s
3. Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Renault), 1h34m51.794s
Q: Michael, after last year, I guess this feels like a very different day. Also, putting aside last year, the first Ferrari one-two since Monza 2004.
Michael SCHUMACHER: I didn't know it was that long ago but we definitely performed extremely well all weekend long. We prepared ourselves very hard for these two overseas races. We knew we had a very good car in our hands. In Canada, for whatever reason, it just didn't work out. Here, everything was just spot on and to have Felipe alongside is just a dream result and in a way, looking at the championship, and knowing Fernando finished fifth, it gives a big step towards the championship. Yeah, it's just a great day. In many ways, a great weekend having Germany winning the (soccer) game and getting into the semi-finals. With me winning the race, it can't be a better weekend in a way.
Q: And in the early stages of the race, you had a chance to study the driving style of your teammate as well.
Schumacher: Absolutely. He did a great run, no mistakes, nothing, very clean, very good, very tough to keep on. Obviously in the slipstream you can't really stay that close and it was very hard, pushed extremely hard on the out lap and luckily our new tyres gave us the edge and made me go forward. But a great result in many ways, for the whole team, and again, as far as the championship is concerned, we are just very delighted.
Q: Felipe, congratulations to you; a career-best finish in second place and a great start there.
Felipe MASSA: Yeah, it was definitely a great race for me. I started really good. I was really really concentrating on the lights. I had a very very quick reaction time this time. I made a good start. I managed to pass Michael by the end of the straight and just try to push to make a good gap between us and the Renault, and I was just concentrating also on their lap time, just to push even harder to make the gap and then to steady the race. In the second part, Michael was just a little bit too quick in the out lap after the pits and he managed to pass me, but I think it was a great result for us. Looking at the championship situation, I think this has come at the right time so now we need to be strong in every race, to fight with them. But I'm really happy, it's my best result and hopefully we can carry on with this pace until the end of the year.
Q: Giancarlo, congratulations to you; first Michelin runner, obviously. What was it like for you today?
Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Well, it wasn't an easy race, especially at the beginning. I lost a position at the end of the pit straight but I was much quicker than Fernando and then I was able to overtake him and maintain my pace. Unfortunately, the two guys here next to me were far away and the pace was just a bit stronger than my pace. I did my best. Third is the best result we can do today so I think we have to be satisfied with that.
Q: And it was quite a close race with you and Jarno Trulli, Jarno on a one-stop strategy.
Fisichella: Yeah, Jarno started from the pit lane and from last position was close to overtaking me so that was maybe the reason. The Bridgestone tyres were a little bit quicker, but anyway, third is good and I'm looking forwards to the next race.
Q: Michael, we turn now to the European season; how do you see things going in the next month or so?
Schumacher: Oh, we can only hope to keep some of the edge we had this weekend and transform it into the European season. There's still a long way to go - eight races - so there's eighty points still to count. If I'm right, I'm 20 points behind now. It is a lot, in a way, but it's not impossible at all, especially you can see how something can come in between, Felipe being very strong and yeah, I think we can do it.
Q: Michael, you always enjoy podiums, but you seem to enjoy this one in particular.
Schumacher: Yeah, I did. I definitely did. Many reasons for it. A while ago, been out there, important moment, Germany winning on Friday, yesterday pole, today victory, five important points in the championship, many reasons.
Q: The crowd seems to enjoy you being up there as well. There seems to be a passion about Ferrari, a passion about Indianapolis, they sort of match one another.
Schumacher: Yeah, I'm not surprised about that. Ferrari creating passion is no wonder. It's beautiful, and in a way we have to be thankful to our fans coming here after last year, still believing in us and supporting us the way they did this weekend. I'm just very happy that we have been able to achieve what we did achieve. I hope it was still interesting enough. I don't know what happened behind me, but I saw loads of action after the start in the first two corners. Even myself, I was involved a little bit, and then we had a first great, Felipe and myself, pushing each other. From then on, we obviously decided the race pace.
Q: Let's go back to the start because the people on the right-hand side aren't meant to make very fast starts here, are they?
Schumacher: In the past, it was a disadvantage to stay on the right side, you're absolutely right. But taking off from the grid to the parade lap didn't look very well, I have to say. Something didn't function properly in a way. The clutch was slipping too much the way I was operating it. I tried to do a better job but just couldn't. Felipe had a good reaction time on top, plus did a good start. Everything worked out. I was lucky to sort of know, not lose a place. I was expecting actually one of those Renaults next to me right away but it only happened at braking into the first corner.
Q: It was very close with the Renault, wasn't it?
Schumacher: Yeah, there wasn't much room between Fernando and myself, but it was a nice battle, fair and square.
Q: The big question is can you continue this run?
Schumacher: Yeah, it's a big question. It's a big question. I mean why haven't we been looking stronger in a way in Canada, which in a way we should have? We looked extremely strong here, particular in qualifying, in a way. The race pace, yes, was quick, but in respect to qualifying, not that big a margin, which wasn't a surprise, as we could see already in free practice. So we hope to carry over some of that trend into the next races and keep on gaining important points for the championship.
Q: Felipe, your best ever position, as well. And a great start as you mentioned just now. Was it much better grip, did you feel good grip there?
Massa: Yeah, it was great grip. I managed to be very concentrated on the light, and I think I had a very quick reaction time straight away. I managed to pull alongside Michael, and I had a little better jump, so I managed to pass him by the end of the straight. So it was a good start, but it was also very, very good first, the car was great. I concentrated on the Renault space, you know, just try to push as hard as I can to increase the gap. And Michael just followed me. And I had a lot of slipping in the clutch going out of the box, which made me lose a lot of time. Plus Michael also had new tyres and he was a little bit too quick in the out lap as well and managed to pass me. So, anyway, I think it's a very very good result for us. Looking at the situation of the championship, I think it came at a good time. Still open, and hopefully I can do my best to help the team to win the championship.
Q: What were your thoughts when Michael emerged ahead of you?
Massa: Well, I mean, for sure I wanted to stay in the front, but the race, you know, he managed to pass me, and I think second is also a great result for us. Also thinking about the championship. I have no possibilities to win the championship, so for sure, I help him the best way we can, we need to be clever sometimes. And I think, you know, just growing every race and learning to bring to get the best experience I can for my future.
Q: Giancarlo, again Renault challenging in the first corner. What was your view of that?
Fisichella: It was normal, normal race challenging. I was just behind Michael, and then Fernando came from the outside, and he braked quite late and he went through. But then I was just quicker than him. I was able to be quicker than him in the last corner and to overtake him at the end of the straight. After that I did my pace, which was much stronger than his pace, but not strong enough to catch him. I think I did the best job I could do today. I'm happy for that. We are looking ready forward to the next race.
Q: Where were you far faster than Fernando? Was it on the straight line or grip or what?
Fisichella: Everywhere, honestly. When I was behind him, he was struggling with the grip, with the understeering, I think. And I was just more consistent than him. As soon as I overtook him, I left seconds quicker than him.
Q: That was your problem yesterday, lack of grip. Was it better today?
Fisichella: Yeah, yeah. That's the main problem for us, just the grip, lack of grip, because the car balance wasn't too bad. And, you know, Jarno started from the pit lane and with one stop finished fourth. That means maybe that the Bridgestone tyres today were working a little bit better than ours.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Bruce Martin - Sports Ticker) If it wasn't for Mika Hakkinen and Rubens a couple of years ago, you would have had a perfect record here. What is it about this place that has done so well for you?
Schumacher: I don't know. I mean there's no obvious reason why here I should do better than elsewhere. It's just coincidence, probably. But it's a very welcome coincidence. That's what I can say. But, no, there's no specific reason in a way.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi - Tuttosport) This is for Michael. In Canada, Ferrari was behind the Renault. I think here you have the same car, the same tyres, the same configuration. Can you explain your improvement, your big improvement?
Q: (Nate Ryan - USA Today) For Michael, you said over the last couple of days you hadn't had a chance to reflect on being a four-time winner. After the emotions you showed after the victory lap, did it sink in that you were the first man to win five races at Indianapolis?
Schumacher: I had very little time for it to sink in, from the podium to here. But I knew about the situation beforehand. As I said at the beginning, there's many reasons to feel very, very excited right now, and I am. I mean, I'm really thrilled, and on the podium there were a lot of emotions, one of the reason is that and obviously the championship and a great weekend. It's just many, many reasons coming into effect and make it a special weekend.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Michael, when you say you don't know the reason for the improvement, does it also mean that you don't yet know if this improvement is of general character? I mean coming back to Europe, are you expecting the same improvement or you don't know yet?
Schumacher: Naturally, as I'm not really aware of why it didn't work out in Canada, and it did work here. So I'm not able to be precise why it might or might not work out at the next race. The most obvious thing would be probably to look at the tyre situation because in Canada, all Bridgestone runners were really in the back, and here all Bridgestone runners looked fairly competitive. So it plays a big effect because on the car, the aerodynamics and the engine, you can only do so much. But tyre, when they grip or don't grip, they can have a big effect, which sometimes you may not be able to compensate.
Q: (Tim May - Columbus Dispatch) Michael, when is the last time, though, you picked up a team mate after a race near the podium like you did Felipe and; secondly, when is the last time you did feel this excited?
Schumacher: It's a long time ago I picked up a teammate and threw him up in the air. There are many reasons for that. First of all, we're getting on very well together. He's really a special teammate, I have to say, for many ways, for his speed, for his character and the way we work together in the team. Plus he's so light, it's easy. Last year, I would have struggled to pick up Rubens.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Michael, gaining six points on Fernando for sure makes the victory even sweeter. But looking mentally, do you think it will mentally help the team like a mental turning point?
Schumacher: You know, we are very strong. We have been through much more difficult periods in the '90s, not to suffer mental strains, no. It's obviously welcome, a result like that, and it may release some extra power, which in a way I would doubt because we always try. But it certainly makes it easier sometimes to motivate everybody to sacrifice maybe extra time elsewhere and stay in the factory and work hard.
Q: (Felipe Motta - Radio Panamerica) Question to Michael and Felipe: Michael, today Italy and Germany celebrate together. Next Tuesday they will fight in the World Cup. How is the environment inside the team, and Felipe, which side will you chose: Italy or Germany?
Massa: I'm more for Italy, I have to say.
Schumacher: We will look forward to it, and we will cross fingers for each party. It's natural what my heart is going for although it's mixed up a little bit, but the majority, anyway, sticks to the German side.
Q: (Matthias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) This is for Felipe: on the first stop, both Ferraris were in pit lane for 24 seconds. So does that mean because you lost three seconds on the out lap that the difference between the tyres is that much?
Massa: No, I lost time when I was out from the pit stop because of my clutch. I don't know what to say. I was just going out of the pits and Michael was passing me on the straight.
Q: (Bruce Martin - Sports Ticker) Michael, you hold every significant record in Formula One, and today you established a very unique record in American motor sports. How does it feel to leave your mark in the United States?
Schumacher: I mean, what else can I say? It's difficult to find more words than I have been saying before because it's special, fantastic. What can you say? It's something extraordinary. The States exists in 2000 for us, we race here, at least in my racing period of Formula One, and it's very historic this place. Come winning here the first time, made it very special. And now win it I think four times in a row, if I'm correct, and now the fifth time. It's obviously just great. One day sitting at home I will remember that, I guess.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) The question is to Michael. Do the emotions that you experience here this weekend interfere with your decision to stay or retire from Formula One?
Schumacher: Again, I've made this comment very often. It's not one singular event that will decide my future.
Q: (Dave Cardwell - New York Times) This is for all three of you. How important was it to have a clean race today, a good race?
Schumacher: Yeah, in a way you always try to aim for that, but then in Formula One history every so often you have an awkward moment. Wherever that happens, you don't feel happy about it, but then that's the way it goes. Whether it was especially important? I don't know. For us it is nice and we're happy to have had a good race and put on a good show.
Massa: I think for the people it's very nice. They came here last year, and they didn't really see a proper race. They just saw four cars on the track, maybe six cars on the track and then not really a fantastic race. So this year they saw the show, and for sure, they are really happy. I mean, last year was not the fault of the drivers; it was just a safety issue. And this year we don't have that any more, and we can show the people that Formula One is a nice sport and they really love it, otherwise they would not be here.
Schumacher: Let me just say one thing. The funny thing is last year we started six cars, and we finished six cars. Today we started all cars and only nine finished, so only three more.
Fisichella: Yeah, it was important for the American fans to give them the show this year. And last year was a special race because, you know, we had a problem with the tires and we couldn't run. Anyway, today I think we did a good show to them, and unfortunately we had quite a big accident in the first corner on the first lap. But apart from that, it was good.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Germany) Giancarlo, how worried are you and your team seeing Ferrari that strong today?
Fisichella: Well, yeah, the pace, Ferrari's pace today and especially yesterday was really, really strong. They were stronger than us. But I think it was a particular race. They've been able to be much quicker than us just in this kind of circuit. I think until Canada we were equal, sometimes we were quicker, sometimes they were quicker. Obviously, the Ferrari team is a strong team, and they are able to push all the time. But like Renault, I'm not really worrying too much. We need just to keep going on the development which is really important for the rest of the season.
Q: (Todd Golden - Terre Haute Tribune Star) Giancarlo, Michael's had a chance to talk about Germany's prospects in the World Cup, what about your passion for the Azzuri and Italy?
Fisichella: You know, myself and Michael are really big fans of football. We play together in a drivers' team for charity. I think both of us play quite well. Apart from that...
Massa: I don't think so, no.
Schumacher: You'd better be quiet, you're out already.
Fisichella: He's Brazilian but he doesn't play very well. It's going to be a very interesting game. I've got on my helmet 'Forza Azzuri' which shows how important the World Cup is for me and to see them in the final and winning the final, of course.