ITALIAN GP - SUNDAY - PRESS CONFERENCE
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - POST RACE - 10 SEPTEMBER 2006
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (Ferrari), 1h14m51.975s 2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLaren Mercedes), 1h15m00.021s 3. Robert KUBICA (BMW), 1h15m18.389s
Q: Michael, an amazing day, a great start alongside Nick Heidfeld, taking second place early on and an emotional scene there on the podium.
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yeah, it's been a very special day and to finish it in this style as we have been doing today, looking at the championship as well, but much more at what's going to happen somehow in future. There's been a lot of discussion for a long time concerning my future and so on and I think all the fans, all the people interested in motor sport, they have a right to have explained to them what's going to happen. I'm sorry it may have taken longer than some of you wanted but you have to savor a moment, and you have to find the right moment and we feel this is the right moment.
To make it short in a way, this is going to be my last Monza race that I'm going to do. At the end of this year, I've decided, together with the team, that I'm going to retire from racing. It has been an exceptional, really exceptional time, what motor sport has given to me in more than thirty years. I've really loved every single moment of the good and the bad times. Those ones make life so special.
In particular, I should thank my family, starting, obviously, with my Dad, my passed-away Mum and obviously my wife and my kids who, at all times, supported what I was doing, and without their support, without their strengths, to survive in this business and this sport, and to perform, I think would have been impossible, and obviously I can't be thankful enough, obviously to my family but also to my mates from the Benetton time and obviously, specially in the Ferrari days when I have made so many friends. I have so many great guys in that team and it has been a really tough decision to decide to not work together at this level with all my friends, my engineers, everybody. They are just so great but one day, the day has to come and I felt that at one point that this is the moment as well as, in terms of timing the decision, I thought that it was fair to find that moment so that Felipe has a chance to decide his future, because I think he is a very great guy. He has been doing a very good job for the team, very supportive, a really great teammate, and there was a moment for him to decide for his future, and there was no point for me to take my decision any later than his decision had to be taken and this was the conclusion.
As well as in a way my future replacement, it's a driver - at some stage the team will tell you - but I was always pleased and I knew a long time ago - to hear that he was the person, and now I would just like to concentrate on these last three wins and finish it in style, and hopefully with the championship, we have made a big step today for that and I really look forward, and I want to thank everybody who has been on my way, or supporting me at all stages. They have been a lot of people. Thank you very much.
Q: I'm sure everybody in Formula One wishes you well on that decision, Michael. Just looking back to this great win today, what were your thoughts when you were behind Kimi in those early stages?
Schumacher: Well, I was hoping that he was stopping a little bit earlier than we would, and so it happened, and the nature of this track is that if you stop earlier you obviously lose out because you run heavy against a car which is light, and that was enough to get by.
Q: Thereafter, it looked to be a race you were in control of. A slight moment with Scott Speed, going into the chicane on lap 31, you lost a little bit of time there, but otherwise relatively troublefree.
Schumacher: Yeah. Absolutely.
Q: Kimi, a great start, pressure from Michael in the early stages of the race.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Umm. Yeah. The start worked very well. I was a little bit concerned about our starting, because the previous starts haven't been exactly good, but the guys did an excellent job fixing the start system and everything worked well. I had a good start and I was just trying to go as fast as I could before the first pit stop, because I was thinking that they might stop a little bit later, so if I could pull out any gap, any chance we could have to try and fight for a win, but as it turned out, we were not quick enough today. But second was quite easy, so in the end I just slowed down and brought the car home and got second place. Unfortunately that was the maximum that we could have today, but it is still a good weekend.
Q: Robert, on the podium, third place in your third Grand Prix, a fantastic drive, a lot of fuel in the car, and unbelievably quick off the line with your teammate Nick Heidfeld.
Robert KUBICA: I'm really surprised to finish third. We knew that we had good tyres this time for the race, not only for qualifying as happened in Istanbul so we were concerned about qualifying, but when we saw that we could be competitive in qualifying as well, and go easily into third qualifying, I knew that we would have quite a consistent car for the race and that's what happened. Good start, unfortunately I locked my wheels in the first corner and I flat-spotted my tyres, so I got a lot of vibration. Then we changed the tyres and it was always a tough race because I had to fight with Felipe and Alonso and also lapping doesn't help me because I was the first one of the group who was lapping and I always lost a second. Then we just came out of the second pit stop with Fernando, side-by-side. Anyway, he blew up the engine and it was really risky because there was oil. Felipe went through and I think he got a puncture or something and then the end of the race was quite easy for me, just bring the car home and the first podium of my life in Formula One.
Q: Michael, tell us about your mindset now as you look ahead to those three closing races in the championship, now only two points behind Fernando Alonso.
Schumacher: I think it is very easy to say what my mindset is. It's not right to say, I'm more focused than ever because I've always been focused on only one thing once I'm in the car, so it is now. It's a championship which started difficult in the beginning, but we returned to it after another difficulty mid-season and now we are two points behind with three races to go, so if I look back to Canada, nobody would have thought we could be in that position. Now we are, due to some luck, but if you look at the retirements over the year, it's now equal and there we are, so 100 percent focused for the Constructors' and Drivers' championship.
Q: Michael, one of the things I think you like doing most is standing on the top step of a rostrum on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and today was probably one of the best. How are going to give it up?
Schumacher: Yeah, Monza is just unbelievable, always has been very special particularly after the race when all the fans are allowed to celebrate this moment so close to us and with us and due to the nature of the circumstances, it's obviously an unbelievable feeling that I had out there today.
Q: You said to Peter just now that you knew a long time ago who was going to be driving in the team next year, so how difficult has it been for you to make your decision?
Schumacher: It has obviously, naturally, been difficult in a way but at one moment I simply knew that all the effort, all the energy, all the motivation you need in order to be competitive - and that's the only reason I want to be here - I can't see I'm going to have that for further years. It has been such a good time for all this time and there's no point just to hang in there and maybe take away the future of a very young talented driver like Felipe. Obviously my replacement... I was aware of this for quite a long time, but with Felipe it was obviously around Indianapolis that his future had to be decided and I didn't see a reason to just hang in there and maybe take away his opportunity and I believe he's a very talented and great person.
Q: You still have that competitive instinct, how are you going to get rid of it?
Schumacher: Well, we will have to see. I always said that the day I will retire, I will just do nothing for a while and then I will see what I'm doing, what is my mood and what's going to happen, but I will always be part of that Ferrari family, I will have to find out how, but I will always stick with my friends there.
Q: Today's race: in the early stages were you just holding station behind Kimi, were you quite happy with that position?
Schumacher: There isn't much sense to go much closer honestly, because you just start fighting the car much harder for not much gain, so I had to wait close to the pit stop time and then we both picked up the lap times and tried to stay as close as possible and luckily I had two extra laps and that worked out.
Q: No problem with the car today?
Q: How difficult will these future races be do you think, now that you've made your decision?
Schumacher: I think this was my most tough one, in a way but it worked out fine. It's not as if I'm lacking anything to make my decision, and this is the reason for it. I don't want to be going away when I'm well over it and I want to leave while I'm still at the top level, so I don't have any reason to have a problem for the last three races.
Q: Kimi, a little bit disappointed?
Raikkonen: Yeah, of course you want to win but unfortunately we didn't have the speed today. The car was working well, it was nice to drive but it was just not quick enough to challenge Michael today. Second was easy, but that's not what we want but anyhow it was a good weekend.
Q: And your feelings about joining Ferrari next year?
Raikkonen: Of course, it's next year. I want to finish this year as well as I can. I'm happy to join a team with a history and all the great things, but first of all I want to finish this year as well as I can and then see what happens next year.
Q: Robert, what a fantastic result in only your third Grand Prix; could you ever have imagined that at the start of this year?
Kubica: No. For me it was already a really great opportunity which BMW Sauber gave me to be a test driver, and then, as everybody knows, I replaced Jacques in the Hungarian Grand Prix and this is my third Grand Prix. In Hungary, I scored points but unfortunately our car was too light. Here: podium, which we were not expecting. After qualifying we thought about some points but when you're starting on the third row and you have two Renaults behind you, which are really strong... After the start, I was third I think. I had the Ferrari of Massa behind me and it was not easy to hold him but anyway, I think we had a good strategy, good car and thanks to the team for giving me such a good opportunity and thanks to our guys.
Q: And a big battle with Nick at the first corner?
Kubica: It was big? After the start, I knew that it was important to go out of the first chicane really well so he went in too quick, I got on the throttle earlier and just overtook him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) Michael, when exactly did you decide to retire?
Schumacher: In Indianapolis.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, how emotional is this moment for you?
Schumacher: It was obviously pretty emotional to take the lap back after the race. I was talking to my team and informed everybody of my decision and probably this was the most emotional moment along with being on the podium to celebrate and at that moment knowing it's the last opportunity I would have to finish so well with such a crowd with so much they gave to me in terms of their feeling and it just overwhelmed me.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Kimi, can you describe the reasons why you chose Ferrari as your future team?
Raikkonen: There are many reasons. I have had five years at McLaren and they are a great team and nice people to work with, but in the end I wanted something else and there were only two choices - to stay with McLaren or to go to Ferrari and for me personally I wanted to go there one day and this was the best moment and I think it is a great team to join and there will be people I will miss in McLaren, but that's how it goes. Sometimes you want something in your life.
Q: (Matthias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, you said you decided at Indy. Does that mean you informed the team at Indy?
Schumacher: Immediately after Indy, yes. I informed the team as well then.
Q: How much did you involve the team. Was there any discussion or was it your decision alone?
Schumacher: The team left me every opportunity and every door open. Obviously I have a lot of friends there and naturally we discussed the up and the down sides and so on, but in the end of the day it was Corinna and myself.
Q: Mr Schumacher I have a question: may I get you for a one-to-one interview?
Schumacher: Nice try. Promised it already.
Q: (Marco Evangilisti - Corrriere dello Sport) Kimi, are you somehow concerned at taking the place of the most winning driver of all time?
Raikkonen: Not really. It's a nice place to go and of course the team will expect a lot but in the end I also expect a lot from myself and I want to win and this is different again to McLaren where there was Mika world champion twice and wasn't easy then and it will not be easy this time and I will go there and do my best and hopefully it will be enough for everybody.
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael, do you have an idea what you are going to do with your life?
Schumacher: I said before, no,.part of it will be to keep a relationship with Ferrari and we will talk about that before the end of the year but now the focus is on the last three races so now will look after that.
Q: (Matthias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) Michael, there was one part of the unilateral that I didn't quite understand when you said you first waited for the decision about Felipe before then making up your mind. What did you mean exactly?
Schumacher: Maybe it was misunderstood. I said that he had a point of decision around that time that he had to go and he needed to know from my side what my decision was going to be -- at that moment my future was to retire so there was a chance for him to negotiate.
Q: Michael you said for months and for years that you will decide to stop when it was no pleasure anymore or you are not so competitive anymore? Is that the case? One of these two things?
Schumacher: No, there is another reason that developed and I explained that before.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Michael, you look competitive at the moment with no sign or any deterioration in your driving. Was there any thought of going on for another year against Kimi and to see how it went?
Schumacher: Well you can see what I am able to do now. It was not really a thought. You need all the energy and motivation and strength and getting older does not make it easier. And to keep that for a whole year and go on. I just could not see that I had this. I had no need to worry for anybody, I guess, and I thought it would be nicer at this point than when you are at the other end.
Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) How much discussion did you have with Corinna and did she support your decision?
Schumacher: It is natural with the relationship I have with Corinna that we discuss every little thing and the good thing as I mentioned before is that without the support of my family and in particular Corinna all these years I don't think I could have done it so naturally she supported me in my decision as well. She gave me her point of view and we discussed it, but there was no time when she went in another direction. She simply helped me take my decision.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Michael you said it became harder to find the motivation and the energy to be at the top level...
Schumacher: That is not true... I can see it becoming harder. I don't see I am going to have that in future.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto Motor und Sport) Well what is it that takes the most energy out of you? Is it the traveling? Is it the pressure? The expectations of the people? What is the toughest to take?
Schumacher: I don't know and I don't really want to think about it too much. If you forgive me, it is not really a good time for me to enter into every little detailed area of my decision and answer these questions because - and I hope you can understand me - I really want to focus on the championship. I think I gave you basically what I am pretty sure of and I tried to express myself as well as I could. But I don't think I really want to, from now on, go any deeper into it.
Q: (Heikke Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, three years contract with Ferrari... How quickly do you expect to become a world champion?
Raikkonen: I have been expecting it to happen already so you never know what will happen but for sure we try next year again and hopefully we can do it, but there are so many things that can go wrong or right so we just need to work as hard as we can and I have full confidence that the team will give me a very good car so we will see what happens next year.
Q: (Takeharu Kusuda - Lapita Magazine) Mr Kubica, can you tell us about the key to your success in getting a third position in your first year?
Kubica: What key? I have a good car, a competitive car, we didn't make any mistakes choosing the tyres as we have done in Istanbul. We had good ones for qualifying, but not for the race and this time I concentrated with the team to choose the right tyres for the race and the key I think was qualifying. I could qualify better, but unfortunately I made some small mistakes at Lesmo, and for us anyway third row was really good with the tyres that we had and we knew we had a lot of fuel compared to the others and with the good start that we always had in Hungary and in Turkey I hoped to win some positions. We won more positions at the start than we expected and then it was just to keep the pace and the pace was good. Maybe the second and third stint could have been quicker but you know when you are third and there are still some laps to go and you are third in the third Grand Prix of your life you are not pushing really, you just want to stay on the track and to bring the car home to the finish line and I think it was a really good race for me and for all the team and we were not expecting it. Some of my team told me they wanted to see me on the podium before the car went to the grid. I took it like a joke, but it happened so we are really proud of it.
Q: (Carole Capitaine - L'Equipe) Michael do you think Ferrari will continue to be so strong without you?
Schumacher: Ferrari existed before and Ferrari will exist after and I think Ferrari has taken a very good decision with their driver line-up to make sure that the success can continue.
Q: (Juha Paatalo - Financial Times Deutschland) Michael, can you imagine your life without Formula One?
Schumacher: I don't need to do that right now. We shall see afterwards. It is difficult to answer that now.
Q: (Dan Knutson - National Speed Sport News) When did you decide that Ferrari was the better of your two options?
Raikkonen: It doesn't matter when I took my decision. It is just that decision that I took in the end.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) Is there one rival who stands out as your toughest competitor over the last 15 seasons?
Schumacher: I think the nicest battles I had were with Mika in the end -- always at a very high level without any animosities, pure racing.
Q: (James Deakin - F1 Racing) Michael, seven times world champion, every conceivable significant statistic you've got, any regrets? Anything you wish you could change?
Schumacher: Yes, sure I have them. But I am not in the mood to go through them now.
Q: (Stephane Barbe - L'Equipe) Michael how much do you think you will be distracted in the final three races by this decision?
Schumacher: I don't think the pressure is going to be high, as I told you, I explained and expressed myself and if you understood me then you know that what is most important is the championship. I will keep every focus to that and everything that has to be done to do that I will do. I am not getting into this subject any more. I will express myself once here this weekend and then I am not talking about it anymore I am just going to be focused.
Q: (Niki Takeda - Formula PA) Michael, what went through your mind when you crossed the finishing line?
Schumacher: Many things, many things. Particular about the team all the great friends there and I was talking the whole lap to them.
Q: (James Roberts - Motorsport News) What is the greatest thing you will miss?
Schumacher: Excuse me...(sighs)
Q: (Mattias Brunner - Motorsport Aktuell) How much did last year's difficult season influence your decision?
Schumacher: Not really, because I did not see that that would happen again because we learned our lesson and I am very sure that next year they will have a car that is going to be highly-competitive.