Post-race press conference (TV unilaterals) 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 49:31.812s (143.864 km/h) 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 30.5 seconds behind 3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 37.5 seconds behind Q. Congratulations, Michael,...
Post-race press conference (TV unilaterals)
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on winning Monaco for the fourth time and on becoming the most successful driver in the history of Ferrari. Tell us how you managed to beat Mika into the first corner ...
Michael Schumacher: I saw that Mika had too much wheelspin, so I was alongside him almost immediately. He was clever enough not to make it too close, otherwise we would have crashed in the first corner. I was able to slip by because I had more speed and the better momentum, and for this reason I was able to take advantage of my strategy, which was obviously to get clear and build up the gap that I needed for the pit stop, to make everything safe. It was a hard race, but mainly the first part up to the pit stop. I was pushing flat out to get the gap I wanted. After that, I just drove it home.
Q. Speaking of strategy, how wide was the window in which you knew you would be able to stop? How flexible could you be?
MS: Good question! Obviously with two cars a team obviously has the option of moving its cars in and out, and playing different strategies. I don't know what the team did, or when: I cannot see that, while you have a better opportunity to see it all. But there wasn't too much flexibility in the strategy, to be honest, at least not on my side.
Q. There was some controversy over back markers and blue flags at Imola two weeks ago. How was that side of things here?
MS: My compliments to the drivers. They did a very good job this weekend, at least to me. I don't know how it was for the other guys, but they moved over whenever it was possible for them [to do so]. It was all fair play.
Q. Congratulations, Eddie, on cementing your second place in the championship. Your strategy involved two stops: was that what you intended to do from the beginning?
Eddie Irvine: Before the race we had to look at various situations to see what will be the best thing to do. That's where we can play our ace card, which is Ross [Brawn]. He does a fantastic job sorting that problem. And as at Imola, the strategy seemed to work out well for us today. Early on, Mika seemed to hit some traffic, but I managed to nip through it quite nicely. That helped me to close the gap, and once I got close to him I could see that I was a lot faster than he was. In fact I was a lot faster than he was all through the race, but when you're behind another driver here at Monaco it is impossible to overtake, especially a McLaren. We therefore had to do [the overtaking] on strategy, which we achieved.
Q. Watching on TV, it looked as though you lost the race in the first 50 metres. How do you see the situation?
Mika Hakkinen: I think Michael said it exactly right. I got too much wheelspin at the start and was not able to get off the grid well enough to be able to accelerate in first place down to the first corner.
Q. Despite that, it looked as though you would still have finished second until the problem you had at Mirabeau at the end of your first stint. What happened?
MH: There was an incident which I think had just happened as I arrived, and it had left some oil on the circuit. There were yellow flags when I went into the corner, but because of the oil I just lost the back end. If I had tried to turn into the Mirabeau corner itself, I would have lost the back end for sure and gone into the barriers. So I decided to go straight and get back on the track [from the escape road] as quickly as possible. Obviously I lost too much time there. But there was nothing else I could have done in the situation.
Q. Is Ferrari's performance in these last two races beginning to damage your confidence in being able to retain the world championship?
MH: At the stage of the season, the points I have scored in this race are obviously important. Every point counts, as I realised last year. Now we have some very intensive testing coming up again. We plan to improve the car and the engine, so that we can find more speed and stay competitive.
Q. Michael, from here we move on from this high downforce circuit to the Spanish GP at Barcelona, the circuit where most of the F1 teams have experience in testing. Do you think Ferrari will still be the best one to have in Spain?
MS: It might be the case in Barcelona that we are not as competitive, or as quick, as we have been here. If you look at the nature of the different cars then you might say that a circuit like Monaco favours the Ferrari a bit more than a faster circuit like Barcelona which better suits, say, a McLaren. But we also plan an intensive testing programme up to Barcelona. Let's see what happens, because naturally we want to have a car which can beat the others on all types of circuit. I think we are already going in the right direction. If you look back to Melbourne, I can remember there were a lot of people who didn't expect us to be doing what we are doing right now. Maybe they don't expect other things from us as well!
Q. Do you plan to have a wild party tonight?
MS: I would like to have one. For sure there will be a party. Let's see if we can keep the guys here to enjoy it, but things have to move on and by Wednesday the cars must be fixed and ready. It's a shame that doesn't leave enough time for the guys to enjoy themselves, because they have worked so hard to win here and at Imola without being able to celebrate. Maybe we will save it up to have a really big celebration at the end of the season.