POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE â€“ SUNDAY 26 MARCH 2000 1. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1hr 31:35.271s; 2. DAVID COULTHARD (MCLAREN-MERCEDES), 4.302 seconds behind; 3. GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (BENETTON-PLAYLIFE), 39.898s behind Q.
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE – SUNDAY 26 MARCH 2000
1. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1hr 31:35.271s;
2. DAVID COULTHARD (MCLAREN-MERCEDES), 4.302 seconds behind;
3. GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (BENETTON-PLAYLIFE), 39.898s behind
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on taking your second victory in two races and on winning the Brazilian GP for the first time. You seemed to have plenty in hand today, so it is understandable to see you so pleased.
Michael Schumacher: Thank you. The race was entertaining and enjoyable. With different strategies from the leading teams, at least there were some overtaking opportunities which I think we used quite well. In the past, as you may remember, we could not overtake the McLarens, regardless of their strategy. Now we are looking a lot more competitive -- which is where we wanted to be -- and the season could hardly have started better than it has.
Q. You passed Mika after only one lap. You must have enjoyed that ...
MS: Oh yes! It doesn't happen very often that the two leaders of a Grand Prix overtake each other. It was quite entertaining.
Q. After Rubens had retired in a cloud of smoke, were you advised to slow down?
MS: No. I didn't know what had happened. At one stage, I think it was just after my second pit stop, I asked [the team by radio] what the situation was behind me, who was behind me, the gaps and so on. And there was no Rubens, so I asked then what had happened to him. But they were not worried about the same thing happening to me.
Q. But at one point near the end, you dropped four seconds on one lap ...
MS: Yes, I was driving quite slowly, honestly. There was some doubt over whether we had a problem or not, and in some corners I was driving slowly to avoid any risk. But I am not sure that there even was a problem. I had been told to ease up. And even though I know [what was involved], I would not tell you ...
Q. Apart from that, was the car feeling good?
MS: Only in the second stint I had a tyre turn on the rim, just as it did in Australia. That caused a vibration, which didn't feel too good. The car had been handling in the first and last stints, but it was a little more difficult in the second stint, due to that.
Q. Now for Imola and the San Marino GP in two weeks' time ...
MS: I am looking forward to that. We have some further developments to be introduced at Imola and we look forward to being able to compete down there and to winning another one for the tifosi, just like we did last year.
Q. David, what did you think of the Ferraris' performance today?
David Coulthard: I didn't stay with them long enough to see too much. I wasn't able to be in the race under what you might call normal conditions, first of all because I thought the team finally wasn't speaking to me. I wasn't getting any response to my questions and it didn't take long to work out that my radio had failed. My third gear also failed, after two or three laps, which forced me to do the whole race, except for the pit stop, using fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. I think it is a miracle that I was able to finish the race at all, because fourth gear was starting to give me some difficulties later in the race. If Mika and Rubens had not had their problems, clearly I would have been fourth. So to have won six points gives me a kick start in the championship. All I can say is that we didn't do the maximum today because of our problems.
Q. What was the fault with the gearbox?
DC: It felt to me as though the dog rings had become rounded off, because the gear would select -- then immediately jump out of engagement. I could go through the gear at the pit stops, but it was just too risky to try doing that on the circuit. I am very surprised because we haven't had a gear problem before. And it seems surprising that it was third gear which failed, because on this circuit it should not be under a lot of stress. Losing the gear occasionally forced me to run wide through turns 8 and 10, which are corners where you can't use engine braking and you have to rely on engine braking to slow you down. If you can't get it into second gear then you have to rely entirely on the brakes, and occasionally I was losing half a second by having to run wide. But occasionally you have problems like this ...
Q. Were you surprised by Rubens' speed when he came past you on lap two?
DC: Not really. My acceleration was obviously reduced because of the gearbox problem, but in terms of wing settings and top speed we were very equally matched. And maybe with their two-stop strategy, and therefore less weight in the car, the Ferrari drivers were able to accelerate faster than we were. As Michael was passing Mika, so Rubens was passing me. It must have been entertaining for those who had places to watch at the first corner. Given the circumstances, I am very happy with my six points.
Q. Well done, Giancarlo, with Benetton's strategy of a long first stint it must have been a hard race for you ...
Giancarlo Fisichella: Yes, that's true. First of all I aim very pleased with the result for the team. Already yesterday I could see how good the car was and I knew there was a possibility of being on the podium. We did a very good job today, but with so much fuel on board at the start, the car was difficult to drive. I had understeer, and sometimes even snap oversteer, but after 15 or 20 laps it was much better. The balance and the grip improved, so I could start to push hard.
Q. You were also overtaken by several drivers ...
GF: Not really. The few drivers who overtook me all had a different strategy and I overtook them again in the pit stops. This is a great result and will help us to be even more competitive in the future. I am confident about the next race, when we will have some new aerodynamic parts.
Q. Michael, after your first pit stop Mika was able to open up the gap. Were you worried that your strategy might not pay off after all?
MS: Yes, obviously we were concerned, and we were pushing. But at the same time I had more fuel on board, so we concentrated on making sure that the gap didn't get too big.