Australian GP: Saturday press conference

1. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:25.843 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:25.849 3. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1:26.279 Q: Rubens, a fabulous start to your season. Is this what you expected? Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think things in life...

1. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:25.843
2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:25.849
3. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1:26.279

Q: Rubens, a fabulous start to your season. Is this what you expected?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think things in life happen for a reason. I think it's a very good beginning of the year, I've done a good testing, I feel relaxed, I think I've just changed the approach of everything so I feel good actually. But this qualifying means, for sure, it is good to be starting tomorrow in pole position but it was only two runs and then it rained - actually, the rain so many times has helped me in my life so this time it helped me too so it was a bit up in the air, to be honest. We know our car is competitive. Michael would have gone faster, I feel I would have gone faster, but it's good to be here.

Q: It was noticeable that the sky was very grey, the possibility of rain before the qualifying session started. Was that why you went out very early on, to set a flying lap almost straight after the start of the session?

RB: We were aware that it could rain some time soon so we wanted to put in a time. There was some traffic when I started my first run and then I was able to do a quick second lap and then it rained but we were expecting it to go away but all of a sudden it got harder and harder.

Q: Thank you, Rubens. Michael, as we said with Rubens, trying to go for a fast lap very early on, you were interrupted by a yellow flag. How much did that upset you?

Michael SCHUMACHER: It did cost me time, but actually the yellow flag didn't bother me so much compared to the red flag which came straight after; it cost me the lap time. I don't know what lap time I would have done at this stage because I had to back off significantly for the yellow flag. Anyway, we're both up front, that's where we wished to be and we are, and we're obviously quite happy with that and look forward to whatever happens tomorrow.

Q: Now, every team has arrived here with their new car for 2002 but the team with the two drivers on the front row, your team Ferrari, has brought last year's car. Is that the reason why you two are on the front row here today?

MS: Has to be.

Q: Ralf, fastest of the people on the second row, third overall but you're point four of a second behind the two Ferraris. Michael is not giving anything away about whether it's last year's car that's their advantage, do you think it's the car or do you think it might be their Bridgestone versus your Michelin tyres?

Ralf SCHUMACHER: First of all, I think that last year in these conditions when the temperatures are pretty low, and ground temperatures are pretty low, that we are not as good as the Bridgestones are so that helps them for sure. It looked worse yesterday although I'm sure they could have gone a lot faster than they actually did but there's a gap and it is surprising if you consider they came with the old car and they're still so far ahead of everyone, but still a lot of room to improve on our side as well so we will see.

Q: There has been talk this weekend that Williams, in particular, is suffering from braking problems. We saw this morning your teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, coming into the pits with his brakes on fire. Have you had similar problems?

RS: No. I mean, we have high brake temperatures, so do I think other teams have. It's just that Juan didn't cool the brakes enough before he came back in, that's why they went on fire basically.

Q: Thank you, Ralf. Rubens, back to you. Looking head to tomorrow, I don't know if you know what the weather is going to do but it was noticeable at the end, really only you and Michael were out there when it was very wet. Do you think the other teams maybe missed the chance to set up their cars for the wet in case it's raining tomorrow?

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I think it was only to have an idea. You go out in qualifying, you're not going flat out just to do a time, it's just to have a feeling. We had some experience on Friday morning, it's just to have a run really. Tomorrow morning, if rain is there, then everybody is going to have a chance so it was really just to have a comparison.

Q: Rubens, well done. What is it with you and rain, because every single pole position that we can remember seems to have been rain affected.

RB: But the time was set on the dry.

Q: That's what's happened in the past as well but then somehow you whistle up the rain.

RB: I love the rain, to be honest with you. I don't know, it must be something. It is true, fourth time, just somehow I'm involved with the bad weather which for me is good weather, so just have to take it and use it.

Q: You just got the timing right as well?

RB: Well, I don't think I've been right or wrong today; I think everybody knew that it could get wet. I've set my first time but I got traffic and there was yellow flags all around but I could set times too before the red flags, and then we decided to go for another time because it looked like tricky, the weather just spinning out. Even when we were running since the beginning, there was some dark clouds and some spitting on the visor so we decided just to go and give it one more try.

Q: And then this morning, and the last couple of days, you've aborted some very quick lapse so you obviously knew you were up there?

RB: I'm feeling quite good. The old car - I haven't driven the new car actually so I know the old car more than Michael probably so it's good to be racing that car here and I think it was a good decision, the car feels quite good. We improved the car to my liking, let's put it this way, since the very last race of the season so I'm doing good, thank you.

Q: You talked about going out in the wet. What specifically do you look for when you go out in the wet?

RB: For experience, just to get some experience, to feel like how it is to drive. It's very slippery out there, just like it is in Monaco with the white lines, so you have to choose lines when you are going around but it was really to find out a little bit about the wet.

Q: You mentioned just now that you've changed your approach. Can you tell us a little bit more about that, in what way you've changed your approach?

RB: Well, it's a tough life just to be number two to Michael, and a lot of questions involving him and sometimes you are not happy because of a small thing and it becomes a big thing in the press so I just said this year I'm not going to bother any more, just said I would stop crying - if that's what I was doing - just get on with my job, enjoy, because at the end of the day we have to remember why I do this, it's because I love it and it seems that it's working, I'm particularly driving better than ever and it's a good time for myself just to enjoy and drive the car.

Q: You are on pole position, you have got the same number of points in this year's world championship as Michael, does that mean you are going to be allowed to have the spare car tomorrow?

RB: There is no crying, I just get on with it. They give me a car tomorrow and I just drive it and I see what it is.

Q: Michael, a sort of family front row for you and with Ralf just behind you, you don't seem to be too unhappy being second?

MS: No, because if you take the circumstance it's ideal: we have both cars in the front row. We have had all week and a very good weekend, we have prepared ourselves for race conditions and everything looks very reasonable. Bridgestone has done a very superb job with their tyres and all in all there is no reason to be unhappy. We are five thousandths apart, we are both in the front row, it's going to be an entertaining race tomorrow then.

Q: But you have been so quick over the last couple of days, you really have been very, very quick indeed. What can you put that down to?

MS: I think the fact is we have seen that very often in the past that Australia, for whatever reason, seems to suit one team in particular. I remember we have been here with Ferrari against the Williams and they were one point whatever seconds ahead, and then it was McLaren being so many times ahead, and then you come to the next races and suddenly the gap shrinks dramatically so it seems something with that circuit, whatever is the reason for it I don't know, so I wouldn't be surprised if all this can change very quickly and it does suit us 100 per cent - that's the reason, but why the others may suffer, no idea.

Q: Do you feel you have done enough laps in both types of condition? Are you well prepared for tomorrow, whatever the conditions?

MS: We know the car very well so that's obviously an advantage to us, to know what we have to do in what kind of circumstance, and we're pretty well prepared, yes, although we maybe lost a couple of laps which ideally we would have wanted to do but then it was most likely the same for everyone.

Q: Ralf, have you been surprised by Ferrari's pace?

RS: Certainly. We thought that we were going to be closer, which we actually are if you compare it to last year, but then I think they couldn't really show what they were able today.

Q: You set your time in just one run, basically; presumably there was a lot more to come?

RS: Well, there was some more to come, I don't know how much. I hope it will be enough tomorrow to satisfy a good podium in the race. We will see.

Q: Do you feel you are well prepared for any set of conditions tomorrow?

RS: I would say so. We have had our difficulties in rain last year but Michelin has improved that. To which extent, we will find out tomorrow if it rains. For the dry condition, our car is very well balanced the whole weekend really, we were a lot further away yesterday than we seem to be today so it looks promising.

Q: Michael, on your fastest lap you seemed to lose a bit of time in sector one. Can you tell us what happened there?

MS: I lost, for whatever reason, some traction on the grass; didn't seem to accelerate as much as normal.

Q: Actually, that's a further question to that: you picked up so much time in the third sector, you were virtually four tenths down at the second sector and then picked up to be four tenths ahead in the third sector, that's this morning.

MS: It has been all weekend, honestly, third sector seems to be my sector. Maybe we could forget the rest.

Q: But you just seemed well suited to it, the car is well suited to it, that's all it is?

MS: Yes.

Q: Rubens, how confident are you, rain or shine, that in a straight fight you can beat Michael from this position?

RB: I don't think it's a question of beating Michael, we are here to win the race tomorrow; I think Ferrari would be happy whatever driver it is to win and to finish second. We're going to have a start tomorrow and then we see how the race progresses, and I'm fairly confident that we have a good set up, we know the car very well so rain or dry we feel that it can suit any situation.

Q: Particularly if it is a wet race and conditions could be a bit hazardous, is there any thought of you two having a private deal of whoever gets into the first corner first?

MS: Let's talk about this.

RB: We can talk later.

Q: It's a possibility that you will discuss something between yourselves?

RB: We are having dinner tonight. Maybe.

MS: We always discuss.

Q: Michael, if it's wet here, from what you've seen can we expect an unusually incident packed race? Any wet race is going to have incidents but is the track - Rubens said it's like Monaco so can we expect even more carnage?

MS: It has some similarities to Monaco, especially because of the stripes, the lines we have on the road, but otherwise it is a very well built circuit in a town and I wouldn't say that you see particularly more accidents, there is no reason for it. It really depends how hot the guys are going to be tomorrow after the start, because that is going to be a factor. If it is wet and everybody is just a little bit clever enough and knows that you don't win the race in the first corner, then I think it's going to be all right but it really depends on the temper, how much they keep it under control.

Q: Rubens or Michael, we are talking about the old car but in what ways and how much is this car different from the car you had in Suzuka?

RB: From the outside it doesn't look different at all. I think, as Michael has mentioned, Bridgestone has done a fantastic job so we made it very suitable, set- up wise, for the tyre. Engine- wise, I think we have more power, some small touches on electronics and this and that, and the fact that we know the car so well and we can go to the extreme with set- ups and things like this. That's the reason why we're faster but from the outside the car is exactly the same.

Q: What do you feel when you see that you are in new car and you team tested 6,000 kilometres and you are half a second behind Ferrari that has used the old car?

RS: They did about 20,000 kilometres with their car so it wouldn't be surprised that they are quicker. Ferrari is the team to beat at the moment and, if anything, you have to be fair; we are closer than last year. I think it will take a while. We started off with the new car, a lot of journalists were surprised how similar it looked to the old car, almost couldn't see the difference, and we had some problems, we improved a lot during the testing and I can promise you there is a lot more to come really, and we will see. We haven't seen Ferrari's new car - some rumours say it's a lot quicker, some rumours say they have problems so we will just wait and see what happens.

Q: Rubens and/or Michael, on this point about the car, we say the shorthand it's an old car but Formula 1 cars evolve during the season. Is it virtually an entirely different car from the one that you ran here last year?

RB: I think the car has been developed big, big time since the very beginning of last year here so you could say that it's 50 per cent changed because I think Ferrari hasn't stopped one single moment to create new things so aerodynamically the car is different since the car we saw here last year and so we made a lot of improvements on that one so on that matter, even because we didn't have traction control here to begin with so the car is faster by a big amount.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams