It was almost dark by the time Michael Schumacher fulfilled his usual 4.30 appointment with the media today and in fact the meeting had to be cut short when torrential rain came down. Those same media had been very complimentary about the Scuderia...
It was almost dark by the time Michael Schumacher fulfilled his usual 4.30 appointment with the media today and in fact the meeting had to be cut short when torrential rain came down. Those same media had been very complimentary about the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver's performance in Shanghai, describing it as one of his best races ever, but the German did not seem to want to make much of a fuss about it.
"I have seen the race in China and I have to say it was a good one," was his modest assessment. "Everything worked well and also we had an element of luck that helped us. It is nice to be leading the world championship again, but it does not really mean much at this stage. It is more important to be in this position at the end and not just for the Drivers championship but in the Constructors' too."
"It was a bit unfortunate that we lost the lead in the Constructors and that was just because Felipe was unable to finish the race in China. The conditions were very difficult, but we still have two more races and I know I can rely on my team-mate to be very motivated, not just for the Constructors but also for himself in his fight for third position."
Level on points with Alonso with two races to go, but Michael was quick to point out this was not a new experience. "I have been in this situation for many many years so I know pretty much how to handle it," he laughed. "This is not the first time and I have been around for sixteen years! Let's hope it works out. This track is one of my favourites, even if unfortunately we did not get to race at my number one favourite in Spa this year."
"I think the weather is due to improve, but even in the wet, we have taken steps to improve our situation, although it would probably be better and easier if we don't have the conditions that require us to show that we have made this improvement. It would be better to have a dry race for us, but we will take it as it comes. We come here with a lot of motivation and a very good feeling because we believe this track might be even better for us than China was."
Naturally, the Japanese media are particularly concerned about this year's race being the last at Suzuka, at least for the time being. Schumacher had this to say on the subject. "It is sad that this is the last time we come to Suzuka for some time at least, although you must remember that it does not make much difference for me, as I am not coming back anyway. I don't know what Fuji is like, but we do know that most drivers like to race here."
Having arrived from Tokyo this afternoon, Felipe Massa met the media just a few days after unfortunately failing to finish the Chinese GP, when a collision with Coulthard meant he was forced to retire when heading for a points finish. As the press told him that the Scottish driver blamed him for the incident, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro man said, "I am sure David is right, because he is the one who always does things right," Massa laughing to show he was being ironic.
"We saw one another after the race and he is entitled to his opinions, but that is over now and it does not matter." However, the Brazilian did admit it made things a bit harder in the title fights. "There is more pressure now, after my negative result in China, but it is still an open situation and everything is possible. I hope to exploit all the opportunities I am presented with this weekend and to do the best possible to be at the front and to put us into the lead of both championships."
With rain beginning to fall at Suzuka this Thursday night, the subject naturally turned to the level of competitiveness of the F 248 package in the wet. "It is true that a wet weekend would not suit us particularly well, but it is also true that this appeared to be the case a few days ago in China, but in the end things did not turn out too bad," commented Felipe. "Michael drove an incredible race and I was having a good one too when I had overtaken several cars and was heading for a good finish position. But in the end although that did not happen, we still produced a race result that had not been expected from us."
For the Japanese press there is the added question of this being the home race for tyre supplier, Bridgestone and Massa had this to say on the subject: "This Japanese Grand Prix is also important because of our close connection with a big Japanese company. We and Bridgestone have worked hard together and have done a good job together and it would be fantastic for Ferrari for Bridgestone and for the Japanese people if we could get a victory here on Sunday. That would be the best way to achieve our targets of leading the Constructors' and personally for me to fight for third place in the Drivers.'"