Thursday 23 July, 1998 "Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: David Coulthard (McLaren), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher (Jordan) and Alexander Wurz (Benetton) Q. Alexander, this is the first time for you to be racing in...
Thursday 23 July, 1998
Q. Alexander, this is the first time for you to be racing in your home Grand Prix. What do you think of it so far?
AW: So far it has been nothing but interviews and press conferences. Now the weekend starts, with the driving which starts tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the spectators, but it is already exciting for me to be racing at home. I can already feel the emotions, and things are going right. But it is going to be busy.
Q. As a local, what sort of weather forecast can you offer us?
AW: It is very hot, which means there is always the possibility of thunder storms. I remember last year, the organiser of the race and the local people had a very scientific system of forecasts, using satellites. This year, instead of that, we asked the farmers, who are supposed to have a much better clue about what the weather will do. [And they said] that today and tomorrow there would maybe be thunderstorms in the late afternoon. For the weekend it won't be as hot as it has been today, but it's going to be nice weather.
Q. David, you said at Silverstone that the Saturday had been one of the worst days of your life. Have things improved since then?
DC: I obviously wanted much more than I got that weekend, but after every GP we go testing -- which leaves you with very little time in which to dwell on these problems. At Monza last week I went straight out and all the testing we did there seemed to go reasonably well.
Q. But there were reports that you are still having problems with reliability ...
DC: In testing it is sometimes amazing how many little problems can come up. Going back even to the time when I was with Williams, it seems amazing [after those problems] that we managed to finish GPs. But that is what testing is for: it is to develop the car over short runs, which makes things different from a race weekend.
Q. How upset were you during the Silverstone race by the choice of intermediate tyres at your first pit stop?
DC: Well, you know, I am part of the decision. I was angry at the time, too, because I had made a mistake and gone off. To collect points, first you have to get past the chequered flag, so I was really frustrated. But having looked at the race again, with the team, [I have seen] that it was just the way the weather changed [which prompted the tyre choice]. It is possible that it would have been a different story if I had pitted a couple of laps later.
Q. Ralf, you must have been pleased to have come home with Jordan's first championship point at Silverstone?
RS: Obviously we were delighted to have our first point, especially from starting in 21st place on the grid. It was a very difficult race, too, but the car worked quite well. Nobody expected so much rain to fall before the end -- or at least we didn't -- and we had to make an extra stop for full-wet tyres. Then the Safety Car was sent out, which I really appreciated because you couldn't see anything at all [in the spray].
Q. You had obviously improved your starts, too! Do you expect to be making better starts now?
RS: At the beginning of the season our problems were in the clutch. But we have had a new [type of] clutch since Magny-Cours and suddenly I seem to be making good starts again. Obviously we have sorted out the problem.
Q. You're the subject of rumours about a possible move to Sauber. What are your feelings at this stage?
RS: Well, nothing has been decided yet. We are still talking to a few teams. As soon as I know, I will let you know.
Q. Michael, you must be pleased to have reached your own agreement with Ferrari for the next four years. Is it a contract for life?
MS: I hope my life goes on for longer than that, to be honest! It is a long time, yes, but that is associated with the possibility of doing other things afterwards.
Q. You will be the longest-serving driver in the history of Ferrari, and also the wealthiest. How do you feel about that?
MS: No different from now, to be honest. I have no particular feelings about that because the important thing is the way the team works behind you and the way you approach your objective. Obviously it is nice to be paid at the rate you wanted to see, but after a while it is no longer the first priority.
Q. There were suggestions that you had better offers. What can you tell us about that?
MS: There were basically three solutions on offer. I chose the right one. It is true that the figures were all simple, but I chose the one. Maybe one of them was a little higher but what it amounted to was that although one of them was maybe a little bit higher [than the others], it all came down to the prospects of what you can expect to achieve. Secondly, I haven't yet met my objective of becoming world champion with Ferrari. That is the most important factor.
Q. Loyalty is obviously important to you, too ...
MS: I do have tremendous loyalty to Ferrari. It is something that has been built up over time -- and it is now almost three years -- so we have a great understanding between us, a lot of trust and respect. It has worked superbly so far, and if you believe that you should never change a winning team, and bearing in mind that we are winning now, let's not change anything.