Q. Congratulations, Michael, on your fourth official victory at Spa. What were your thoughts today? MS: I was standing on the podium and I just emptied my mind, celebrating that moment, because after the practice and qualifying ...
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on your fourth official victory at Spa. What were your thoughts today?
MS: I was standing on the podium and I just emptied my mind, celebrating that moment, because after the practice and qualifying sessions I hadn't been too satisfied and I certainly hadn't been optimistic about the race. In straightforward dry circumstances we would have been struggling. But obviously with the weather - and also making the right choice of tyres - everything went perfectly. I am really delighted for everyone, not just for me, but for the team and the sponsors, too. We have a great combination on our team.
Q. You must be pleased that this makes four wins, which was the target set by Ferrari at the press conference in January ...
MS: Not for me! It may have been a target for some other people, yes, and obviously we have fulfilled it. But I hope I have not finished yet. There are still five races to go and I hope I have some more victories to enjoy. But this was certainly a very nice one.
Q. You had some thrilling moments in the first few laps, first when you passed Jean Alesi and then when you took Jacques Villeneuve. Tell us how you tackled them.
MS: With Jean it was fairly tight, but I had decided myself that was the point [on the circuit] to pass him and I had decided to take the line. If he hadn't moved over then I would have touched him. On the other hand, it was still very slippery and it probably wouldn't have damaged anything if I had just leaned against him. But he saw the situation and then he moved over because there was no other choice for him. Jacques was quite fair: he stayed on his line without zig-zagging or trying to resist. He must have known that with his full-wet tyres he didn't have a chance [of resisting], so he just stayed where he was - and it was fairly easy.
Q. What tyres had you - and they - chosen?
MS: I was on intermediates and they were on full wets.
Q. So even in those flooded conditions you think that intermediates were the right choice?
MS: Obviously, yes! I guess most people were running on intermediates, but it was certainly a very difficult decision because none of us knew how long it would rain as hard as it was raining during my last installation lap before I went to the grid. The full-wet tyres looked like the best choice at that moment, but as it had stopped raining by then, I decided to gamble that it was just a shower, the rain would stop and I could take a chance. It was obviously the right decision and fortunately Race Control decided that it was too dangerous to start the race in those circumstances.
Q. Once you started to get away in front you must have been laughing in your helmet!
MS: I was fairly busy and I didn't have time to laugh in my helmet. But I have to say that when it stopped raining while I was sitting on the grid and I saw the sun coming out I started to smile. My first thought was, 'great, these are just the right circumstances for me now.' But from that moment to the chequered flag was quite a long time ...
Q. How did you have the car set up for the wet?
MS: It was the usual procedure of changing the wings. In the wet you need a bit more downforce in order to survive, and that's what we did. I don't want to say too much because these guys beside me are listening. But it was the right circumstances for me and the car. Everything fitted together, including choosing the right tyres, and obviously I like this circuit. As far as I am concerned, nothing compares with this place.
Q. Giancarlo, how did you have your car set up?
GF: I made the right choice of tyres for the start - the same as Michael in fact - and this meant that I was able to overtake Jacques and then get away on my own.
Q. Were you worried about the speed at which Michael was getting away from you?
GF: Michael was very fast and I couldn't actually see how fast he was getting away from me. But I was able to keep up to some extent and I have to thank the team for their support. The car was running well and it stayed fairly consistent. The pit stop went well, too: I came in at exactly the right time and we restarted with heavy fuel, so I was able to do the rest of the race with only one more pit stop after that first change of tyres.
Q. Mika, during the pace lap we saw you off the road, and Frentzen then changed places with you. What happened?
MH: I actually went off at the top of the hill ... just because there was so much water on the track. I couldn't steer the car anymore and went on the grass and lost two places. But I also had a technical problem with the car, for the last 15 laps, so it was very difficult to keep the car 100 per cent in the corners: I was losing time on every lap. It was difficult to push to the maximum. On every lap I was losing roughly two or three tenths because of that.
Q. Michael, how do you feel about the championship now?
MS: It couldn't have gone better. Maybe it's paying me back for the bad luck we had at Silverstone and Hungary. But nothing is decided yet. Twelve points is a nice margin, but with five races to go it's still not a definite situation. Things are improving for us and now I hope that Monza will be as good as it was last year. Even so, it is going to be very difficult because from what I saw in the test last week the two guys next to me are going to be very fast. It's going to be a struggle, but on the other side I'd rather have them in front of me than Villeneuve.
For this and the other press conferences see: http://www.fia.com/presse/f1conf-en
--- David Goodwin