POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE - SUNDAY 12 MARCH 2000 <pre> 1. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:34:01.987 2. Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1:34:13.402 3. Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 1:34:21.996 </pre> Q. Many...
Q. Many congratulations, Michael, on winning this Australian race at your tenth attempt. With no points for McLaren, and with your brother in third place, you must be delighted.
Michael Schumacher: Certainly. 'Delighted' is probably the wrong word. Imagine how long it has been for Ferrari: this is the fifth time we have tried to win this Australian Grand Prix and to be competitive from the beginning of the season. But somehow, immediately I got into my new car I felt it was the car to do it with, and to be able to fight right from the beginning of the championship. Obviously there was a little disappointment yesterday, because we were not able to get the full potential out of it. I myself wasn't too worried, though, and today's result has proved me right. I give thanks to the guys for the fantastic job they have done, not just because the car has been so reliable but because it is so bloody fast. I am really delighted to be driving this car.
Q. Even when you were behind the two McLarens you seemed to be in total control. Was that the case?
MS: Yes. I was already driving pretty easy from the beginning. I was saving my tyres, saving my fuel, ready for the final moment when the pit stops came and I had to attack. That was my strategy and it worked fine. Unfortunately the two guys in front of me broke down. I would have preferred to race them to the end, to prove how really good we are. But I think there will be plenty of opportunities for us to do this again all through this year.
Q. When you saw David Coulthard retire, did you deliberately pick up the pace in the hope of forcing Mika Hakkinen into a similar situation?
MS. When I saw David slowing down I was wondering what was going on. I didn't know whether he had a problem or whether his team had told him to do certain things. I wasn't sure and for a moment I was worried about what was really going on. Luckily I then saw him going into the pits, so I knew what really was happening. After that it was just a matter of being calm, putting pressure on Mika and waiting until the pit stops to see what happened. That was my strategy: I didn't expect him to break down as well.
Q. Rubens, well done on equaling your previous best-ever result in your first race with Ferrari. What were your thoughts after the start when you got caught behind Frentzen's Jordan and the two McLarens and Michael were getting away?
Rubens Barrichello: It was really hard, because this car, as Michael said, is unbelievably good. Unfortunately there are not many places to overtake here in Melbourne unless the car in front is really, really slow. Heinz-Harald was trying to keep his pace, and at one point he was going really fast, but it took a long time for him to work up to that speed. With the other guys going away, I was working out fresh tactics with Ross [Brawn]. He has been described as the maestro, and now I can say he really is the best. He changed my strategy, and although I don't know what happened to Frentzen, I think we would have got him anyway. Ross and the whole team did a great job.
Q. How soon did you decide to change your strategy from one stop to two?
RB: It happened pretty much on that lap when we saw that Heinz-Harald was going for a long first stint. That was the moment when we decided to go for two stops.
Q. Ralf, your day didn't start too well when you were forced to take the spare car. How surprised are you to finish this race, let alone to have got on to the podium?
Ralf Schumacher: It's really amazing! Just like last year, we came here again with no full race distance tests behind us. But the team has done a great job. This is the best car that I have ever had to drive, and BMW did a great job on the engine. It did the job, it is nice to drive, it was reliable and we finished 3rd. I thought that we would be in the points if we finished the race, but I never imagined we would be 3rd. This was a great day for us.
Q. You were involved in several close battles on the track. Was it always a fair fight?
RS: Actually it is a bit boring because the only thing you can do is to follow the other cars, wait for them to pit and then be quicker in the pit stop. That is what we did: we were probably the latest into the pits, and that is what helped us to overtake the other cars.
MS: Yes, certainly. This car is faster than [any Ferrari I have ever driven]. It is competitive and reliable, as we have seen. From this point I am looking forward to the whole season because I believe we will be able to be competitive everywhere. Not only is the car fast already but we also have very good ideas on how to develop it. It looks like being a very good year for Ferrari.
Q. Michael, you must be quite pleased with this result for the Schumacher family ...
MS: Yesterday I remember seeing Mika [after qualifying] and thinking it was good for him to celebrating pole position because today I would be celebrating a victory. I was quite sure we could do it, and I am delighted to be able to prove how strong we are. Traditionally Ferrari has not been strong at the beginning of the season - but now we are. Maybe now it will be for other people to think about fighting us, and not the other way.
Q. Both you and Rubens seemed to be slow at the start. Was that a correct impression?
MS: Yes, it's the usual problem. I would say that is our weak point. We have to improve. Definitely. They [McLaren] are very strong in this.
Q. But you practice starts in testing. I heard you already did a day and a half ...
MS: Even more! But there is a bit more to this, it is quite a complicated situation going on at the start. It is something we are definitely not on top of.