Q. Jacques, congratulations on your fifth victory of the season. Did you think that everything was lost when you fell back to fifth place at the first corner? JV: It wasn't looking good, but this is always a long race with lots of...
Q. Jacques, congratulations on your fifth victory of the season. Did you think that everything was lost when you fell back to fifth place at the first corner?
JV: It wasn't looking good, but this is always a long race with lots of things happening, like they usually do at Monaco, and I knew that the tyres would be marginal. So I just stayed where I was, watching the guys in front pushing and having their battles until they blistered their tyres. And sure enough, after ten laps their tyres had blistered. Then I just had to wait a little before I made my move. My first set of tyres was good and I could keep up with him, but as soon as I had made my first pit stop the second set blistered. I did a few slow laps [to bring them up to temperature] but that wasn't enough and I blistered the left rear a little bit. That forced me to slow down and fight off David until the second pit stop.
Q. At one moment you were ahead of Michael Schumacher, who almost immediately went into the pits. Was that a sweet moment?
JV: We had made a fair guess that he would make three pit stops. I could see his tyres, too, and there was no way he could have done more laps the way he was. Even if I had not overtaken him, he would have stopped then anyway.
Q. Your first pit stop took 11 seconds, which is quite long. Do you know what happened there?
JV: Yes, it was a little bit long, but I don't know why. I am happy that it was Damon in front and not anyone else. For the last 15 laps I was thinking there was a good chance that Damon wouldn't finish the race, but he was actually going on and on. My hopes had gone down to nothing until the last two laps, when the team told me he was slowing down a lot. So I started pushing again, and when I got close to him he was moving left and right which is normal on the last lap and when he moved over on me I went on the grass because there was no way I was going to lift ...
Q. Was David Coulthard putting a lot of pressure on you?
JV: Yes, because his tyres held up pretty well and he was pushing hard. Somehow we were doing the same lap times, so as long as there was no traffic then it was OK: even with my tyres blistered it was no problem keeping him behind me. It's a shame that HeinzHarald had a car problem, because he was on the harder tyres and he would not have had the blistering problems that I did.
Q. We saw you congratulate Damon. What did you say to him?
JV: I told him it was amazing to see him up here. You know, he was worth a win today: he drove really well and he was flying. It's a shame for him. But as far as the whole Williams team and I are concerned it's a much better result this way because we are fighting for the championship.
Q. It's great to see you back, Damon. That was a lively start to the race for you, wasn't it?
DH: I got a good start and I was able to stay close to Michael. But I could see from early in the race that he had blistered his tyres and was going to have a problem. Because of that I was able to pass him quite easily into the first corner. Then with a clear track I knew I had to capitalise on my advantage. Everything went beautifully, I managed to stay in front of Jacques and pull away from him when I wanted to. The tyres stayed good and in the last three laps I was beginning to think about winding down but I didn't expect to have to wind down as much as I did when the car gave trouble. The first I knew of it was with about three laps to go when I had a problem with the throttle. It is operated hydraulically and the throttle was just an indication of a general hydraulic problem which also affected the gears. When the gears started to give trouble I couldn't shift and the throttle didn't work either.
Q. In which gear were you stuck?
DH: At one point I was stuck in second. I managed to get it into third, but that was the end because it was a case of the throttle working when it wanted to do. Unfortunately these things get out of your control: when you can't use the gears or the throttle, that is the end of the story. It stopped about three times and I am frankly amazed that I was able to get to the finish because I thought it was going to leave me parked. But it picked up at the last second, so I have to say I am really pleased to have finished second.
Q. Jacques has mentioned the blisters that some of the other drivers have had. Did you have any worries about your tyres?
DH: Our tyres have been fine all weekend. Fantastic!
Q. Johnny, how easy was it for you after you got in front of the Benettons and managed to join to group fighting for second place?
JH: It wasn't too easy. But it was a good first corner for me and I knew it would be important for me to get in front of at least one of the Benettons. In fact I was fortunate to get ahead of them both, which allowed me a chance of keeping up with everyone else. We knew before the race that we would be very hard on tyres, and in a way it was fortunate for me that Michael was holding up so many others in the first stint because otherwise I would not have been able to save my tyres. I knew that [on an open track] they would have blistered and fallen apart. It was a matter of keeping them together. I have had experience of being stuck in the traffic already this year, in Barcelona and Canada, which was worthwhile experience.
For this and the other press conferences see: http://www.fia.com/presse/f1conf-en
--- David Goodwin