Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - June 6th 2002 Michael Schumacher - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Hirohide Hamashima - General Manager, Tyre Development - Bridgestone Motorsport TO MICHAEL SCHUMACHER: We understand that you started...
Bridgestone Motorsport Press Conference - June 6th 2002
Michael Schumacher - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Hirohide Hamashima - General Manager, Tyre Development - Bridgestone Motorsport
TO MICHAEL SCHUMACHER:
We understand that you started your career on Bridgestone tyres, can you tell us more about that?
"Naturally, people start motorsport in karting as I did, and it's quite true that I started my karting career on Bridgestone tyres. There was a special Bridgestone tyre, I think it was called YB, at the time. I was seven or eight and I got some money from some friends and my grandma and I saved it and in the end I was able to buy this set of tyres with which I did the whole season, rather than just one race. That was quite entertaining."
We know you have the most competitive car in Formula 1 at the moment, but how big a part have the Bridgestone tyres played in your success so far this year?
"A very big part. The tyre development area is the biggest area where you can achieve improvements and Bridgestone has done an incredible job this year in particular because the competition has been strong and the joint venture between Ferrari and Bridgestone, the working relationship, is so close. Bridgestone have people in Italy, we have people from Ferrari in Japan and this combination and communication is so incredible and leads to success where I believe a big, big percentage in the races we have won this year is due to Bridgestone."
You were 2nd in last year's Canadian Grand Prix and 2nd in Monte Carlo, how are you approaching this weekend?
"Change the number to number 1!"
TO HIROHIDE HAMASHIMA:
Five wins out of seven races so far this season, please summarise Bridgestone's performance so far in 2002?
"It is not enough! Our target in developing the tyres is to win every race, so in terms of this the result so far is not enough. However, at some tracks we have performed better than last year, for example Imola. We have developed and identified the weak points from last year and we are at a very good stage with Ferrari now."
How important is the information a driver like Michael gives to Bridgestone as it works on developing better and better tyres?
"Michael is an incredibly good driver. We have a lot of data from the cars but we can't always understand how the car behaves so the driver can describe this to us. For example, Michael describes every corner during the lap and he can describe very accurately how the tyres behave. That information helps us develop the tyres correctly."
Can you explain the collaboration between Bridgestone and Ferrari - I understand you have access to a lot of information from the Ferrari team and that Ferrari sent engineers to Japan to learn more about tyres?
"Before this collaboration started, a tyre manufacturer might think in one direction but sometimes a car manufacturer may develop in another direction. In this case, the performance is not so good. Our engineers and Ferrari engineers, and also the drivers, work on the development direction together - the ame direction for tyres and car - so we are all stronger. It is very interesting and very helpful to us."
Last year's Canadian Grand Prix was not won by a car on Bridgestone tyres, what are your expectations for this weekend?
"Last year we made a mistake in the compound we chose. Michael got pole position but during the race the tyre performance went down. After last year's French Grand Prix, we worked on improving our heat durability so now I am confident we can win this weekend."
TO MICHAEL SCHUMACHER:
You seem to be the king of Montreal - you have won four times, pole position six times, fastest lap four times and yet I hear you don't even like the track in Montreal. How do you account for your success here?
"It sounds very negative that I don't like it and it's not true. I have maybe a different favourite circuit than Montreal because Montreal is a stop-and-go circuit with chicanes without having a big challenge in terms of corner behaviour and characteristic. Obviously I have had reasonable success here but whether there is a real explanation for it, I wouldn't think so."
Are you the kind of individual that when he wins he just wants to win more, do you have an insatiable appetite for winning?
"I like the competition and it's natural if you are in competition, whatever competition you are in, you like to be the best and the best is to win. Sometimes you can enjoy coming 3rd or 2nd more than winning so it's not always that the win is the most satisfactory thing. I remember in Malaysia I came from the back into 3rd position and I enjoyed that probably more than I did some other races where it was sort of easier to win."
In talking about tyres, this is the first circuit for a while where the track stretches out a little bit more compared with Monaco where everything is stop-and-go. How do you adjust for this kind of track?
"Together with Bridgestone we have a huge programme for testing in order to find the right compound, find the right construction. We have a lot of knowledge from the past of what is required for this type of circuit so this is one area where we try and develop the right tyre. On the aerodynamic side we have a configuration which suits the circuit and then the rest is knowledge in terms of set-up, what you have to do to start with the optimum and then it is just fine-tuning."
You seem to be alone out there, would you like to have tougher challenges, tougher challengers?
"I don't think it is very fair to put it that way, the challenge is always there. We have had races this year where the challenge maybe wasn't very big but then we have just had a race in Monaco where the challenge was very tough. Last year here we had a big challenge and we lost the challenge so that's racing. There are great guys around right now."
There has been a lot of talk about having to have visible grooves on the tyres, is that something you are aware of when you are driving and monitoring tyre wear?
"Yes, certainly. We are aware of it and together with Bridgestone we work very hard to stick to the rules. Bridgestone teams basically start always with new tyres and we believe that is the correct way of driving on grooved tyres. Sometimes you wear them down right to the minimum, sometimes you have a lot of groove left, but that is our philosophy."
You have a chance to tie with Juan Fangio and perhaps beat him in his all-time world championship record. Is that a motivation for you at all for wanting to continue?
"No, not really, because first of it is not comparable. The times Fangio was driving in are not comparable to these days and I have lot of respect for what he has done and I think what we are doing right now doesn't come anywhere near it. It's not really the target for me. The biggest challenge for me was in 2000 to win the first championship with Ferrari and after this you just still enjoy racing and enjoy competition. As long as I purely enjoy that, that is what is driving me. The number of championship and victories that come with that is not really important. In motorsport you have a lot of up and down experiences, it's a very intense life and for the moment that's what drives me because I want to experience that."