Australian GP: Saturday press conference

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m27.173s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRAI), 1m27.418s (+ 0.245s) 3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m28.101s (+ 0.928s) Q: Michael I think it has been exciting for everyone to watch, but a little confusing. Let's...

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m27.173s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRAI), 1m27.418s (+ 0.245s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m28.101s (+ 0.928s)

Q: Michael I think it has been exciting for everyone to watch, but a little confusing. Let's ask how it went yesterday, how has it been going and how it lead to pole today?

Michael Schumacher: Well obviously it didn't start perfectly for me yesterday. I wouldn't think I had the best set up. Rubens had done a much better job in that area and I just simply copied -- and that is what team-mates are there for, to help the other out when he is in trouble -- and it worked out very well for me taking his set up and it worked out well for me today.

Q: Yesterday you described yourself as a bit of a street-cleaner going out when you did and leading the world championship, of course, and today it was a completely different deal. What did you think about the one lap qualifying and what was going through your mind and how difficult is it for the team to adapt to that new pressure situation?

MS: I guess it is far more difficult to adapt for the team because to adapt to the time frame we have to work currently when things are very tight and as you can see we finished the warm-up at 2.45 and at three o'clock everything has to be ready for the race and then it is very tricky and there are certain things and I guess some adaptation will be necessary for the future, but in general I shouldn't complain. It is the same for anyone. For me, in the car, it is no different because when you concentrate and you do your lap whatever the situation is whether you have four opportunities or you have one, you concentrate for it and I don't have the feeling it did anything to me.

Q: It looked like a very clean lap. Does that mean you had a little margin because it was only a one-lap burst?

MS: No, I think it was a lap spot on. I don't think I had any margin left to push further.

Q: Rubens, it looked like there was a bit of trouble there with Kimi Raikkonen on the circuit in front of you and debris coming from his McLaren?

Rubens Barrichello: Yes, it was the only problem I had really this weekend. We have new rules and new everything and you have to accommodate yourself for what you see. I was pretty much prepared and the car felt good. I came out of turn six and I had this flag which was the one warning of debris or oil on the track and it took my attention away a bit. I felt I could have pushed a little harder because of that and there were pieces on the track and the car was still running. So in a way I cannot complain because that is it but I felt I could have done a little bit better after being on top all weekend.

Q: How much does having to race the car you are qualifying effect the way you look at the fuel strategy and then the race strategy now?

RB: It is a new thing altogether and in a way it is less exciting than it used to be, in qualifying, to be honest, because we're not on the fuel level we used to have and we used to push the car further. I mean you have to be really flexible with the car. We were over-steering on many points on the circuit so it is a compromise for the new rules.

Q: Juan Pablo, a nice clean run from you too -- what was the car like?

Juan Pablo Montoya: It was alright. In the warm-up I had a couple of scares in turn one and I did two laps and I went off twice. I came in and I said what have you done to the car. It had become basically undriveable. And we had a look and found the problem and we changed it and then I took it a bit easy through the first corner because I didn't want to go off there and apart from that I had a bit of understeer at high speed, but it was pretty good and I think the guys in the team did a fantastic job. As Michael said, the guys did a fantastic job because 10 minutes before they were still working on the car. So, for me, it is pretty interesting and it should be a pretty good race tomorrow with car being very consistent.

Q: What is your verdict on one-lap qualifying so far?

JPM: It's good. I am sure sometime you are going to blow it and be 15th on the grid. Look at Kimi, it happened to Kimi today. It could happen to anybody. But I think it's good. You've really got to get the best out of yourself in one lap.

Q: You've got the new Williams FW25 BMW here. How do you feel about that?

JPM: It's good. I'm P3. I think the car needs a lot of work, yes, and there is no lies about that. It has improved a lot over the winter, but I think there is a lot more to come from the car.

Q: And Michael, there is still life in the old Ferrari yet?

JPM: Tell me about it!

MS: Yeah. But it's a question of how good is an old Ferrari against a new Ferrari and that is something we still have to answer.

Q: You had a bit of an off yesterday and you had a bit of an off a couple of years ago at the Australian Grand Prix. Is that the start of the season or is it the way things happen?

MS: The off was actually today, but my engineers they came along and they said they were worried because I hadn't had an off so far! It seems to be a tradition for me to have an off here and finally it happened and from that moment things started to go well.

Q: Is it a tradition or does it just take a little bit of time to get used to it all?

MS: Obviously no-one does it on purpose, but you push and you sometimes over-do it and as we are on a street circuit if you over-do it it is easy to hit the walls. But here in Melbourne they have done a fantastic job in terms of the run-off area and I probably should say a big thank-you to Mr Ron Walker who has just improved his run-off areas significantly otherwise I would have been big-time into the wall. Probably not only myself so a lot of safety improvements have been done for the good.

Q: You have a lot of experience. What is your take on the new regulations and on the new qualifying in particular?

MS: Well, I think we should pass on the whole weekend and then see where we are. There is no point to judge right now before the race.

Q: New Williams. Old Ferrari. When is the new Ferrari going to race?

MS: We hope as soon as possible but obviously we want to make sure it is reliable, so it depends on that when it is. You remember last year things looked very good for us after the race and everybody thought well no way can anyone beat Ferrari and then we went to Malaysia and everything was the other way around. So I would be careful and wait and go to Malaysia and see what happens and get some experience and later on see what is the reality. Those guys at Williams and McLaren also have lots of room to improve.

Q: How do you feel now with your car in parc fermee and you cant do anything now until the race starts tomorrow?

MS: It feels odd because now we have all the time in the world, but we can't do anything on the car. So it is strange.

Q: Any safety issues with that.

MS: I don't think I want to get into that right now. Its really too early and you should really take the experience and see whatever you find and there could be an issue with weather conditions suddenly changing from dry to wet weather, but maybe first we should wait for the experience to see if it is or not.

Q: Michael, well done. A lot of the time seemed to come in the third sector, where did that come from?

MS: I think that I did almost the same lap time in the third sector, is that correct? I think it's been the same thing in the past, as well, not only this year. Maybe it's to do with the tyres, maybe it's to do with the car, I don't know.

Q: This morning when you went off, presumably they repaired that car, did it feel absolutely perfect when you went out in the warm-up?

MS: Yes, no problem. We had to work on the car to make final changes after the warm-up, yes.

Q: What's it like going out when you've made some changes, but you're not awfully certain how they are going to affect the car?

MS: You don't have time to think about it because everything happens so quickly, you're in such a rush that you don't get on top, everything happens and you just go out and drive.

Q: Do you think the new regulations are more enjoyable for TV viewers and spectators, and if so, why?

MS: I haven't spoken to anyone, I don't know.

Q: Rubens, what are your feelings about that question, is it more enjoyable for TV spectators?

RB: In a way, yes, but on a track like this, where you know that towards the end, the track is probably a little bit cleaner than before, then I think spectators are always waiting for an improvement but I certainly feel that it's more enjoyable than before.

Q: Was your lap a good one, apart from obviously coming across Kimi Raikkonen?

RB: Yes, it was going quite well, but you're so focussed on that lap, you're so concentrated on that and all of a sudden I saw the flag and to be honest with you, it took my attention away. It won't change much, now, I'm second and I'm happy with that. We have the two cars on the front row, but you have a clean lap, you don't have traffic any more, there's only you on the race track, then all of a sudden, boom, you have a flag, so what was I to do? It's new. I wasn't expecting anything like that. There were bits of car in the middle of the track and the car was still running so it was a bit of a mess to be honest because I felt that the car was too good to be doing 27.4s. I felt that a better time would be on the cards.

Q: You said you were happy with it, you've been quicker than Michael all weekend, then he pinches your settings and goes quicker than you. Is there a bit of disappointment to that?

RB: No, not really, no. We're a team, we work together, it happens to me, it happens to him, it's not a problem. What did disappoint me are the new rules, we may need to revise them, because that thing with the tyre flying about and that stuff was just a bit odd. We need to maybe give a chance to everyone to run cleanly. Everything thing was running pretty cleanly until I came on the track.

Q: If you'd found him in the middle of a corner, that might have been completely different.

RB: When I saw the flag and I didn't see any car at all and then all of a sudden he was there, it didn't bother me because he was on the right side, he let me by, it was the bits of car in the middle of the track which affected me a little.

Q: Juan Pablo, up from 11th to third, a bit of a surprise?

JPM: No, this morning the car was really good, we did very good overnight with the car. This morning it was very consistent and competitive with a lot of fuel and it was good.

Q: You said they changed your car a lot after the warm-up, how did you cope with that?

JPM: It's alright. We had quite a few problems in the warm-up. I did two laps and I went off twice in turn one. I couldn't really understand. We came back, found the problem, fixed it and went into qualifying. I'm very happy, I've got to say, P3, yesterday was a bit of a struggle but today everything worked really well and it paid off.

Q: Frank said the approach had been conservative yesterday. Was it less conservative today?

JPM: A little bit. You know, you try to find solutions and we did. Yesterday we were based on what we went on in testing and it didn't seem to work well, so we changed everything and it was good.

Q: Do you think the new qualifying format is better for spectators and TV spectators?

JPM: I think it's much better on Saturday, but I think Friday is boring because after the first five cars run, everyone goes slower. Unless Michael or Rubens breaks down, they would be last or one of the last cars to go in Malaysia would make it interesting, but apart from that, it's just where they queue.

Q: How different was the set-up of cars compared with the old qualifying procedure, where were we on fuel in terms of tactics tomorrow and indeed, can you give us some insight into pit stop strategy?

MS: It's better if you go in the garage and see the computer and talk to the engineers, they will explain you everything.

Q: OK, is that an invitation?

MS: Not from me. Obviously nobody wants to get into details on this subject.

JPM: Qualifying is completely different because you've got a lot of fuel on board, so in a way it's a big compromise as to what the car is going to do on low fuel as opposed to high fuel, so that's a compromise. I think something that makes it quite interesting is that you've got to plan the race before you qualify. We could have planned the race to start tenth, but I'm third. They've already decided when they're going to stop and we've already decided when we're going to stop and that's going to make it quite interesting in the race, because you got to wait and see what everybody does but it's going to make it quite a lot more exciting.

RB: The only thing I can comment on is the fact that the car is a lot different from the old qualifying because as Juan Pablo said, you have to compromise a lot so, as I said, now you don't go to the limit, you go to the very limit of the car that you're driving right now but it's quite a different car to the old days because you carry a lot of fuel.

Q: The Minardis came straight in so that they don't have to go to the parc fermé, are they allowed to add fuel?

JPM: That puts them last on the grid...

MS: I don't know, probably yes.

MC: You're probably asking the wrong people really. (Laughter) They know how to drive, not run the car.

MS: I'm a bit more clever than that (laughter)

MC: You usually know these things Michael...

MS: Yes, but this is a very detailed question which is a bit fresh.

Q: How important was the starting order this afternoon?

MS: (Misunderstanding the question) Naturally you have to find the right compromise in finding the right fuel level, a set-up which allows you to be reasonable in qualifying and again, good enough for the race because if you just work for one it will not pay out for the other, so that's the compromise you have to take. Where is the compromise, where is the right compromise? That's something, because everything is so new, it's a bit open and it's experience we have to take from now on and see what teams are going to do and from the next races.

(Now understanding the question). I think today the starting order was less important due to the fact that we had this mini-warm-up just before and within 15 minutes after the first car could run, because when I went out, and I was one of the first cars to be out and try to do a time, it was very difficult, the circuit was almost like yesterday, being out the first, because after all these Formula Fords and saloon car races there was a lot of dust on the circuit so it took some cleaning up, but by the time we finished the warm-up I guess that the circuit was in good condition.

JPM: I didn't run at the end so I don't know. I'm sure the later you run it's going to be better because there's more rubber, but I don't think it's like it used to be because before you had 20 cars, four runs, 80 laps, now it's only 20 but it will improve a little bit but not massively.

RB: Nothing really, I was only the last one, not the middle one.

Q: Broadly speaking the grid line-up is not all that different after all these chances. Is this a lot of fuss about nothing? Or can we expect a big change tomorrow?

MS: Honestly, I don't think anyone expect a whole different scenario and suddenly Ferrari being in midfield because of the rules, although, because of the rules and because of the mistakes you can do, it can easily happen, but in actual fact, we are professional enough to try and achieve the maximum performance, and I think that's what has generally has happened. On the other hand, if you look at where David and Kimi ended up, I guess that was a factor of this new procedure, because had they had other qualifying laps available, I guess they would have been further up on the grid and the same with my brother.

Q: Don't you think people don't understand completely? It's like Fridays last year. We don't understand how many kilos you have in the car...

MS: I guess you were responsible for it. You wrote so many stories how boring Formula One is, so (laughing) now you have to live with it!

JPM: You understand how it works, yes? It's not up to us to transmit to the people how it works, it's up the press to transmit it, that's what Michael is trying to say basically.

MS: Not quite.. maybe I should speak Spanish.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi