The paddock at this old-fashioned circuit does not have that much space, so the media simply stood in a huddle outside the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro offices to hear what its drivers, starting with Rubens Barrichello, had to say about this coming...
The paddock at this old-fashioned circuit does not have that much space, so the media simply stood in a huddle outside the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro offices to hear what its drivers, starting with Rubens Barrichello, had to say about this coming weekend.
"This year's package is not our best ever," began the Brazilian. "That is due a bit to the car, a bit to the way we set it up and a bit to the tyres, so we can expect a difficult time this weekend. However, on the positive side, Ferrari has always been very strong at Suzuka."
Barrichello was quick to dispel the idea that tyre partner Bridgestone would have an easier time simply because this was its home grand prix. "We do not have a new type of tyre here," explained Barrichello.
"But we have tested a lot and we hope the tyres we have here will prove to be the right choice. Also the weather forecast says it could rain and that could make it a bit of a lottery."
With two races left at Ferrari, Rubens admitted that he was beginning to look back at his time with the team. "Yes, we have had some great times together and coming here, I remember winning in 2003 and next week in China I will think of last year's win, but I don't want to take that emotion onto the track where it won't be useful."
The Scuderia's German driver was next to face the press, hiding a new and very short haircut under his cap! "Our performance level is the one you saw in Brazil," he began, when asked if Suzuka could see a Ferrari on the top step of the podium on Sunday.
"Brazil was one of our better races this year, even though it is obvious that there and here we cannot fight for the win. I think we can aim for the podium and in a season like this, you learn to be happy with this."
As to whether the team was any closer to improving its performance, Michael said, "we have lost our perfection and our speed and we have still not found the answers. Doing that will be the most important thing before next year, because I want Ferrari to come back very quickly."
Asked about Fernando Alonso and how he compared as a world champion, Michael reckoned comparisons are not a good thing. "I believe every driver is unique and has his own character," he said. "As for Fernando, I think he is a worthy champion, who has done a good job all season and understood the importance of team work."
And as this difficult season for the Scuderia approaches the end, what lesson has Schumacher learnt from it: "I guess that would be the fact that racing can be fun even without winning," he said with a smile.