European GP winners'' post conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:34:01.987 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), +13.821 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), -1 lap Q. Congratulations, Michael, on a great victory at the Nürburgring. Everyone could see the rain on TV when...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:34:01.987
2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), +13.821
3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), -1 lap

Q. Congratulations, Michael, on a great victory at the Nürburgring. Everyone could see the rain on TV when it started to fall on lap 12, but what was it like to drive in when it started getting harder?

Michael Schumacher: The only critical circumstance was when it started to rain and you were out on slicks. Obviously none of the frontiersmen wanted to take the risk of coming in to the pits for rain tyres and finding that they were slower. [At that stage] it wasn't yet raining clearly. We knew [the heavy rain] would come, but nobody had any idea whether it would start then or later. So obviously it was difficult. Then some drivers started to come in for rain tyres, and as soon as we saw they were faster we went straight in too.

Q. Was there any problem with aquaplaning today?

MS: A few times, yes, especially on the last set of wets. I did more than 30 laps on them and they were pretty knackered by the end, which made it pretty difficult on certain parts of the circuit, especially on the straight. But it was not as bad as Silverstone, for example. Here it was not so bad as that.

Q. Your first pit stop was slow. Do you know yet what happened?

MS: I honestly don't know, I'm going to have to analyse it. You guys sitting out there have the opportunity to see everything from outside, and you can see the times of the stops. Waiting in the car I sit there and don't even count, I just go when I am told they're ready.

Q. Mika, you went from third to first place before the first corner. Was that the best start of your career?

Mika Hakkinen: Not really - but it was one of the best. I enjoy getting away fast like that. [When you're third on the grid] that's the only chance to get through. You can immediately improve your position and I was happy to do it because the disappointment I had in qualifying was fixed.

Q. Towards the end of the race, when you were lapping faster than Michael, you had several backmarkers - Wurz, Herbert and Button - to cope with. If you hadn't been behind them, do you believe you could have caught up?

MH: I would certainly have got very close. But naturally I also understand that Michael could have pushed harder, too. Obviously there are improvements to be made [in signalling] the backmarkers, and today that situation didn't help me too much.

Q. David, you lost two places at the start and then appeared to be struggling throughout the race. What sort of problems were you having?

David Coulthard: I really don't know at the moment, although whatever problem it was, I suspect it was mechanical rather than aerodynamic. My getaway itself wasn't too bad, but I missed the lights - probably because I was too slow to react. Then straightaway I was struggling with the rear of the car, which became even more difficult in the damp conditions and worse still when the track was fully wet. This was one of my most difficult races. In the circumstances I count myself fortunate to have finished third.

Q. In the last seven or eight laps you were getting a lot of close attention by Barrichello close behind you. Was the situation under control?

DC: There wasn't anything I was able to do: it was up to him whether he felt able to pass me or not. I drove the whole race as fast as I was able to, considering the balance of the car. My lap times at the end were quite a bit down. I guess Rubens was catching me pretty quickly, so it was just a question of whether he could see enough to overtake. But I knew from following other cars myself that visibility was very bad. So I just concentrated on driving my car and waiting to see where I would finish when it was over.

Q. Michael, we now go to Monaco, where you will start with an 18 points advantage in the title-chase. At the start of the season could you ever have envisaged such a scenario?

MS: I was dreaming for it! Sometimes dreams come true, and now we are in a very good situation. We have a strong car and a very good team. We also have some points in hand [over Mika and McLaren], which is the opposite of our position in the past four years. Let's see how the season develops now. So far Monaco has always been a good circuit for me. I hope we're going to see another good race for me there this year.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren