Belgian GP winners' press conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren) 3. Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton) Q: You made amazing starts both times, but Williams helped themselves to the back of the grid. Michael SCHUMACHER: Yes, certainly. It's unfortunate...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)
2. David Coulthard (McLaren)
3. Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton)

Q: You made amazing starts both times, but Williams helped themselves to the back of the grid.

Michael SCHUMACHER: Yes, certainly. It's unfortunate for my brother obviously. When you said I made an amazing start, I don't think that's true. I think the guy next to me made an amazing start. I don't know which position he came from but he almost overtook me, so I would say we made an average start and I was able to just defend my position thanks to whatever problem Williams had I didn't have to fight against them, because you saw the first start and they just pulled away and I had no chance. I think even on the start, if Ralf had started from second position he would have just beaten me into the first corner. But we didn't find out and I had a clear race from that moment on and I'm obviously delighted.

Q: How easy was it to keep your concentration and control?

MS: I was pushing flat out until the second pit and then I eased off. For whatever reason, I thought I had the chance to open up the gap for an extra pit and we didn't know whether they would do so I just wanted to have that safety margin because I was faster than Giancarlo and David couldn't get by I was able to open up such a lead. I once lost concentration going wide in turn 15, I was just playing with too many buttons at the same time and I ran wide and almost went into the barrier. It didn't need much to do that. When you are on the limit, that's what can happen.

Q: David, would you have ever predicted you would spend so much of the race looking at the rear wing of a Benetton.

David COULTHARD: No, no. Giancarlo was doing any amazing race, obviously his car was working better than it has done this season and he was quick in all the right areas: out of La Source and out of Stavelot, so it was very difficult to get close, and I knew that my opportunity might come at the pit stop and I thought I lost it when I caught one of the Minardis in Blanchimont, and I said to the team on the radio, "I think it's going to be close." Obviously he came out in front of me. Then thankfully with the backmarker at La Source, it just upset his rhythm a little bit and I got the run through Eau Rouge and I was able to outbrake him. Given the weekend I've had, I'm obviously very happy to have got second place, hoping that Luciano is 100 per cent and able to do the next race, and then we can all feel it's been a positive weekend.

Q: Looking at your car, it was absolutely covered with oil. Whose was it?

DC: I was saying to Giancarlo that I've never been behind such a messy car. I was having to wipe my vizor every single straight, and I was out of rip-offs very quickly. I understand it just made it across the line, so I think it was spitting all its oil out as the race went on, so it's obviously a lot quicker, but a little bit close to the limit probably.

Q: Giancarlo, can you put your finger on what has happened to your car to make it so much faster?

Giancarlo FISICHELLA: Obviously we had the new aerodynamics package here and the car was much more competitive, easier to drive, easier to get a good set-up, even much more grip normally. Even during the race there was a very good balance, especially after a few laps because at the beginning there was a lot of understeer but then there was a good balance. We just missed a few kph on the straight compared to people but maybe in Monza there is one more step and we are very optimistic for the next one.

Q: You had a very unusual tyre tactic at your second stop. You only changed the tyres at one end of the car; can you explain why and was it your choice?

GF: Yes, it was my choice. There was a problem starting with the new tyres, graining, and it was better to keep the same tyres. In fact I was still on the same set of tyres at the end of the race on the front, but new on the rear. It was the right choice. We did a very good job. I did two amazing starts, especially the second one from sixth position to second, and I'm happy. It's a great day, and I'd like to say thank you to the team.

Q: Michael, the next race in Italy, it's going to be quite a party in Monza.

MS: Yes, you can imagine. On the other hand, we still want to do well which is maybe going to be a little bit more difficult for us, looking at the characteristics of the circuit. From Hockenheim, we know Williams is very competitive there, so we have to work very hard and have to find out what we can do against this strong package of what they have, but we will certainly try, as we have tried here but anyway we have good reasons to celebrate down there.


Q: You seemed to have another pace to everyone else; where did it come from?

MS: Yes, you have to be honest. I don't think the Benetton is normally not a car to run up front, so it was a bit of an unusual situation, even though they had good speed, obviously. But I guess David could have gone faster. Once he was past he went faster, so that was the extra bonus I had to disappear to quickly.

Q: Even at the first start you pulled away from Ralf...

MS: I didn't know if he was on a one stop while I was on a two stop but if he was on a two stop, then clearly we were going very fast. We indicated that in the warm-up already this morning, that our package was very competitive. I don't know why but obviously I went in the T-car but I felt much more comfortable in the T-car and that was going really perfectly. I went in the race car and couldn't do the same performance, for whatever reason. You know when everything fits together then you can do these kind of things and today everything fitted together. I was lucky getting the start and having Fisico between me and the rest for the later part of the race.

Q: Was your only moment that one at Stravelot?

MS: Yes, that was the only moment. Obviously I slid wide because I mixed the apex a little bit. I was tuning the car from the inside and just mixed the apex a bit and ran wide. I didn't expect a problem but then when I was sitting on the kerb I lost control of the steering for a while and I was a bit scared going into the wall, but luckily I got out of it.

Q: Do you do that a lot, playing with the buttons?

MS: We have all these buttons to use them, so I use them.

Q: Does this ease last night's football defeat by England?

MS: Honestly we said yesterday, because Ross's wife phoned up and said 'listen, tonight England, tomorrow Germany.' That's the way it should go and that's the way it went so I'm pretty happy with that, a bit disappointed as to what happened yesterday but I think if you imagine it is 26 years ago England last beat Germany in Germany, you can live with that.

Q: Were you reassured about Luciano on the grid?

MS: Yes, I was told by Jean about the situation so we knew at the time he was conscious and things didn't look too bad. Obviously we weren't aware of the true picture and we were made aware just before that things seemed alright and he's bruised and doesn't feel very well, but in the circumstances he's in good shape.

Q: Will that be something you'll be looking at, the fact that a car can go under tyres?

MS: You know, at this kind of speed, that naturally happens. You have these tyres as a cushion. I don't know whether the tyre caused any problems to Luciano except getting him out which took maybe a little bit longer, but that's something we need to analyse but honestly, I think the drivers, the FIA and everybody have done a good job there because remember, one or two years ago, we had a big kink in the barrier there where the barrier come back and if it had still been there, he would have had a really big one, that would have been massive, because this was still sideways and apparently the way it came back, he would have had a frontal impact at this speed. On the other hand, you still learn that you have to improve. Saying that, the way it happened is a bit unusual but you will never find total safety unfortunately.

Q: David, ninth to second, you must be pretty happy.

DC: I'm quite happy with the result but it doesn't look quite as good as it sounds because obviously a lot of cars dropped out. I think three cars went out before the start proper but I still had a little bit of fun. Spa is a track where if you have a bad qualifying you can overtake, because of the fast corner through Eau Rouge and if one person has a small lift there it gives you momentum and I was able to overtake both Jenson and Giancarlo - although they were both going at quite a pace. They must have taken a big step forward since the start of the season... that's a pity! Second place in these circumstances, absolutely the best I could hope for so I'm pretty happy considering the way my weekend started and the way qualifying went and again the guys have given me a reliable car.

Q: What about all that oil - was that throughout the race?

DC: That was from the back of the Renault, I've never seen so much oil all over my car since I raced at Le Mans and that was a 24 hour race! It was quite incredible - must have a big old oil tank. You get oil on your visor, you have to wipe it and it can be a bit of a distraction if you have to wipe it but it's just part of racing. It was a new helmet, so that's destroyed.

Q: Giancarlo, where did you get all this new power?

GF: It was the same power as normal but we have a new aerodynamic package, which is much better, the car is much easier to drive, there is much more grip even to find a good setup. Already on Friday we understood the settings to be competitive for the weekend and then we took a chance to do a different thing to do the race with the same set of front tyres. That was the right choice. Just after each pit stop there was a little too much on the steering but after a few laps there was a good balance. I did two fantastic starts - the first from eighth to fourth and the second from sixth to second and maybe that opened possibilities. After the second start it was right to go for the position.

Q: So how did David get the advantage?

GF: There was Bernoldi in front of us and I lost a little bit downforce and David was overtaking me in the hairpin - it was very close but then he overtook me on the straight. There was no possibility to keep the second position but third is great today.

Q: He wasn't able to overtake you for ten laps though.

GF: It was very exciting even in the race to be in second position, even the team was happy on the radio and many times I heard 'push, push, don't be lazy!' So I was pushing, doing my best and there was David pushing me so it wasn't so easy.

MS: That's Flavio!

Q: Michael, what went through your mind when you saw Ralf on the grid with his wheels in the air?

MS: You feel disappointed obviously for him, that's the immediate feeling. I didn't really get any notice when we left the grid, then I saw his car in the mirrors jacked up, I was thinking 'what's wrong' and I went on the radio but I knew it was too late for him.

Q: Michael, you were talking about strategy - are there ever any moments when you and Ralf compare your strategies before the race?

MS: It's natural like in the past he was further back and I was in front you might exchange a little bit more but in the moment as we are doing now, the competition we have, we don't talk about these things. Neither I want to tell him my strategy nor he wants to tell me so we don't even waste the time trying to talk about it. We talk about lots of other things.

Q: Giancarlo, are you using manual starts still?

GF: No, launch control, we have been many races since Silverstone I think.

Q: David, were you behind Mika at one stage in the race and where did you pass him?

DC: At the second start he got pushed wide out of La Source and I passed him into Eau Rouge, then was behind Jenson, who I got past at the end of the straight.

Q: Giancarlo, will you miss the Benetton team next year?

GF: After four years it's not easy to leave, I have a very good feeling with the guys, the engineers, and I'm a little bit disappointed. Even because the Benetton team is starting to be quick. But the problem was just one year contract, and with Jordan was three years so I had to think about my future. I hope it's the right choice and we'll see next year.

Q: Michael, does the 52 victories mean something special to you as you are not so excited by statistics.

MS: That's not really fair, it doesn't have the first priority but it does mean something to me, to have this number on my count. Actually I'm very delighted about this but I will be much more delighted sitting one day in the sofa, retired, and I have a cigar and beer in hand and think about it.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan