European GP winners' press conference

Q Gentlemen, congratulations on a superb grand prix and Michael Schumacher on your home grand prix win. You had different strategies to Jean Alesi completely and yet you were only 2.5 seconds apart at the end. Why was that? MS...

Q Gentlemen, congratulations on a superb grand prix and Michael Schumacher on your home grand prix win. You had different strategies to Jean Alesi completely and yet you were only 2.5 seconds apart at the end. Why was that?

MS A good question, I think Jean started in dry tyres at the start and we did in rain tyres. That meant that we had to make another extra stop which, for my car, I wouldn't have liked to risk it because as this championship is, there's no reason to risk such a thing. But obviously for Jean, it worked out up to the last laps. It was very close and I have to say I have always enjoyed fighting with Jean because it's always a fantastic fight we have, really serious, but absolutely correct.

And why I have been in front? I would say because the team has built up a strategy which worked up to the end of the race. I was pretty upset when I did my 2nd stop. I thought that's it, so now I can push and go to the end of the race and they told me I have to come in another time. I thought, 'Shit. That's it, now I lost the race,' but the team has done a perfect effort the whole weekend again and for me, it's an amazing thing.

I had so much luck this year. Things went so well for us. Winning the German grand prix in Hockenheim, I thought this is the greatest I have ever achieved and it will be difficult to achieve it again, but the way I won this race today, it's unbelievable and again in Germany I made it full now. The two home grand prix plus the grand prix where I live in Monte Carlo and Spa. I won all of them.

I'm very glad. I'm very glad for me and for the team, especially for the supporters I had here. They were tremendous, I mean the weather condition over the whole weekend, having so much support of my fans, it's just fantastic.

Q The race was so full of incidents but pick out one. When you tangled with Damon Hill early in the race did you actually touch at that corner?

MS No, we haven't touched. It was close, but that is what racing is about but we didn't touch. I stayed outside, gave him the room while I wanted to continue and the next corner then he catch me up, until he made a mistake in the last corner and I could pass him back again.

Q Jean Alesi, an excellent 2nd place. A very brave decision to start on slick tyres with the rest of the field on wets. Why did you take that decision?

JA Honestly, I have no possibility at this moment to fight. I was 6th on the grid. I had nothing to lose, so I decide to start in slicks. I'm sure it was the right decision. Even if at the beginning it was very, very difficult because sometimes on some parts of the track it was much, much quicker and some parts was very, very slippery but anyway, I'm really happy with the decision because I'm sure it was the right one.

Q Now, with just a few laps to go you went wide. Do you think that was the point where you may have lost the race?

JA Yes and no. Yes, because I lose a lot of time in this manoeuvre but the big problem was Hakkinen. When I catch him he just push and we have a new regulation now with the blue flag, I was very surprised, and they have to slow down. By radio they ask me push again, my team and I ask them to go to the clerk of the course to say something and I don't know what they said. I saw again some new blue flags, I try to overtake him and again I have some problems. So I'm sure I lose a lot of time at this moment and then ofcourse when I try to push I go straight on at the chicane and it was the last chance.

Q David Coulthard, 3rd place again. What happened during the warm up, the 3rd time you've had problems this year?

DC Is it the 3rd time? I remember Monza but, no I was very surprised. I came through the fast chicane on the warm up lap normally.

MS Oh, it was you that was there?

DC It was me again, yeah. I just got to the exit and the car snaps sideways. I thought 'Oh my god, not again,' and I stalled the engine and ofcourse then had to come back and take the spare car which wasn't ideal ofcourse for the race because your own car always feels just a little bit better. But all credit to the mechanics again, who had to yet again prepare the spare car for me, so a big thank you to them, and ofcourse that compromised the race a little bit. But I have to say for Michael to win with 3 stops, for me, it probably rates amongst his best wins. So big congratulations to him.

Q Now at one point you were just ahead of Damon and it was pretty close and then you seemed to pull wide to allow him through. Was that orders from the pits?

DC Yeah, it was at that time. Initially in the 1st part of the race when it was wet, I think I was running quite quickly but then as the circuit started to dry out I had some problems. The car was very nervous at the rear, so I couldn't commit as hard on the damp track as the other drivers. I wasn't interested in spoiling the battle between Michael and Damon, so I moved over and let him through and then I was surprised to find myself in front of him again later in the race and then he went off. I think I had a 1 lap advantage to Barrichello so it was quite an easy 3rd and so some good points.

Q Michael, you're now 27 points ahead with only 30 available. You must feel even more comfortable now with the position?

MS For sure, I mean in my wildest dreams I wouldn't have thought about this being after that race 27 points ahead. It's unbelievable. I saw Damon in the wall suddenly and I thought that's the point now to more or less secure the championship and then I thought what I gonna do. Do I stay in 2nd position or am I gonna fight for 1st position and I was so strongly pushed by my fans and I really pushed very hard then to give a victory to my fans, which was dramatic. I mean, between me and Jean, it got very tight. We maybe could have got a lot wrong but, in this moment I took the risk because Damon was already out of the race. So by the worst I would have maybe stopped as well and it would have been 17 points up in the next 3 races. I took the risk. I won the race. Nothing could have been better.

Q We saw on your final lap, as you were going around, Damon Hill actually applauding you. He obviouly appreciated the victory here today.

MS Yeah, he did and I think it was a fantastic and nice manoeuvre, the thing he done. I appreciate very much from him. That shows to the outside how it's really the situation between of us. We are not maybe the best friends but we don't really have problems against each other and there is not such a strong situation as has been built up by the press.

Q Well gentlemen, congratulations on an excellent race.

-- David Goodwin

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Jean Alesi , David Coulthard , Damon Hill