Sunday 2 May, 1999 Post-race press conference 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 33:44.792s (195.481 km/h); 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 43.3 seconds behind; 3. Rubens Barrichello (Stewart-Ford), 1 lap behind ...
Sunday 2 May, 1999 Post-race press conference 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 33:44.792s (195.481 km/h); 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 43.3 seconds behind; 3. Rubens Barrichello (Stewart-Ford), 1 lap behind
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on taking your 34th career win and moving into the lead of the world championship. The fans obviously enjoyed seeing a Ferrari win at Imola for the first time in 16 years. You also looked as though you enjoyed this race ...
Michael Schumacher: Oh, yes. It's always a good feeling to be driving around Imola when you drive a Ferrari. Today it felt good already on the parade lap. Being as well supported as we are here, and after such a long time without a victory, it was a great feeling to deliver the wishes of the fans after all the suffering at the beginning of the season. I really enjoyed going round slowly afterwards, looking into the faces of the people. I was soaking it up.
Q. Was the car good throughout the race?
MS: Yes. We made a little modification to the front wing during the race. Other than that, it was quite good.
Q. What were your feelings after the start when the two McLaren drivers were ahead of you? At that stage Mika was pulling away ...
MS: The way it looked it seemed obvious to me that one of them was on a one-stop strategy and the other was on two stops. I didn't want to let the gap separating me from David open up too much, I preferred to drive a nice race until the moment came to push. That's what I did: I waited until I knew it was the right moment to go for it.
Q. What was your own pit stop strategy was?
MS: Basically, we were going for a strategy which would give us two options -- and we took the option according to the way the race was going. Obviously Ross Brawn is in charge of the final decision on that, and we communicated a bit, but I left the choice to him. I knew that he had a better [appreciation] of what would be the ideal strategy, and it was he who decided. I know that if we had gone for one stop we would have stayed in 2nd position. The two-stop strategy gave us the possibility of being able to jump ahead, and even if that hadn't happened, we would still have been in 2nd place [after Hakkinen's retirement]. There was no big risk involved, so we went for it. And it worked out well.
Q. At the second stop, were you confident that you would still be leading when you returned to the track?
MS: Yes, as I saw the gap increasing, and having built up a lead of almost 20 seconds, I knew that was enough. So I kept it at that and waited until the time came round for my pit stop. David started pushing a bit harder at that stage, but I didn't need to risk anything then, so I just concentrated on my strategy.
Q. As we mentioned yesterday, there was some spectacular driving in qualifying. At times today you looked to be on the limit again: were you pushing at 100 per cent?
MS: Especially during the 14-lap [middle] run, I was probably doing qualifying speeds. For the first 30 laps it was important to take everything smoothly, make sure that you didn't destroy the tyres and keep the gap as close as you thought you could afford to allow it. After that, it was more or less qualifying speeds. The last stint was a matter of carrying the car to the finish and driving it home.
Q. David, congratulations on having opened your world championship points account. How was your car performing today?
David Coulthard: It definitely felt better as the race went on, and the second set of tyres worked much better for me. I struggled with a bit of oversteer on the first set. It is always difficult to judge how much change [in handling] there is going to be between warm-up and the race, especially when the temperature goes up as much as it did today. In hindsight, maybe I could have taken a little more mechanical grip off the nose, but otherwise I had no problems.
Q. Was Mika on the same one-stop strategy as you?
DC: We will never know! Obviously I don't want to give away any of the team's secrets, and you know now that I was on a one-stop strategy. I think that would have been good enough to have won the race for me today, apart from the obvious difficulties of getting through the traffic. It seemed particularly bad here -- worse than I can ever remember -- and a couple of the drivers didn't seem to respond to the blue flags. I think the circuit marshals did a reasonable job in using the flags, but [certain competitors] were not too keen to move over.
Q. On the podium you seemed to be upset ...
DC: I am disappointed. Today I lost a race that I should have won. But because of factors other than the performance of the car and my driving, we didn't win it. That does not take anything away from the achievements of Michael or Ferrari, but we had the correct strategy and a quick enough package to have won. Not to have come away with a win in those circumstances is disappointing. I have to thank Michael for persuading the fans not to boo too much when I received my trophy, because they obviously remember Spa last year. Without Michael's [gesture] it would have been a little uncomfortable to have been up there as someone that the fans may still hold responsible for Michael not winning the championship last year.
Q. Rubens, congratulations on giving Stewart and Ford their second podium finish in two years. How do you feel?
Rubens Barrichello: As I already said on TV, I want to dedicate this success to Ayrton. This is the place, I believe, where my life changed. After everything I have been through, from the problems on the car to the problems with myself, I think that Imola this year has seen another changing point. The car was competitive and we had no problems in the race, even though we decided to run to the lower rev limit in order to get to the finish. The first set of tyres was the best: on the other two, I had a little too much oversteer, which cost me a bit of time. I was also lucky that the other McLaren and the other Ferrari were not there at the finish. But you need to be lucky to be here on the podium. Still, it is a changing point in my career. This year I have a competitive car which allows me to show people what I am capable of doing. We don't know whether we can be as quick as the Ferrari and the McLaren, but that is our target and we are making progress all the time.