French GP Saturday press conference

1. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1m12.989 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m12.999 (+ 0.010) 3. David Coulthard (Mclaren), 1m13.186 (+ 0.197) Ralf, it was very tight, wasn't it? Ralf Schumacher: It was very tight indeed. In actual fact I...

1. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), 1m12.989
2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m12.999 (+ 0.010)
3. David Coulthard (Mclaren), 1m13.186 (+ 0.197)

Ralf, it was very tight, wasn't it?

Ralf Schumacher: It was very tight indeed. In actual fact I didn't expect, after this morning, that we were able to beat them here, but it worked out. It was very tight but it was enough.

How special is this first pole position for you and the team?

RS: It is special for the team maybe. For me it is nice to be on pole position, but then Saturday doesn't count. I would rather hope that we have a good day tomorrow and that I watch the white lines a bit better this time.

Do you think you had a little more time in the car than the 0.1s that you are behind Ralf?

Michael Schumacher: I think both of us feel that way probably - or all three of us. If you come together you may say that you could have gone faster, but that doesn't count. What is the result finally is him having pole position, that counts and it's a good way to celebrate his birthday anyway.

It looked quite crowded out there towards the end. Did you have any problems with traffic?

MS: I wasn't out at the end. Just ten minutes to go I went out and there was actually no real traffic. Two cars got out of my way easily. I just had traffic on my third run, which I would say could have been the fastest run, but that's the way it goes.

David. You were fourth when you went out for your last run and you came in third. Could you talk us through that last lap?

David Coulthard: Well the third run had been on schedule to be quicker than that but there was a little bit of gravel on the track in turn 13 from one of the other cars, so I had to brake quite early for that corner, and I lost the time, and I only went half a tenth quicker. So I knew it was possible to be quicker on this lap but unfortunately I didn't seem to get turn three quite as good on that last run as I had on the previous run, so I was actually slower as I went into turn four. Then after that I just tried to stay tidy and bring together the lap. But I think we can take encouragement because generally the car was capable of being quicker but you have to make a decision when you're doing the lap as to whether you're trying to gain that little bit of time which will help you up the grid, or obviously you can go over the top and lose time.

Do you have any confidence than you can reverse the order Williams-Ferrari-McLaren in the race?

DC: As you've seen this year, the races are a completely different issue. In qualifying, we haven't shown to be particularly strong other than at a couple of circuits. In the races we have been a bit stronger. Obviously it's always a bit difficult to know exactly where we stand because the Williams being on a different tyre, we can know roughly where we compare with the Ferrari, but we just don't know what to expect from them(Williams). We do our race and yes, we can gain places.

Will Michael be giving you any favours at the start tomorrow?

RS: I owe him one definitely. This time it will hopefully be the other way round. I think we are going to have a tight race again. As David said, we have to see what the tyres are doing. From what we've seen so far from Bridgestone this weekend they look to perform very good, very well. We will have to see whether we are able to keep up.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Ralf, Happy birthday and well done. What other presents have you had today?

RS: No, my parents aren't here obviously and...

<B>MS... it was a nice one today, wasn't it? He worked hard for it. So did I, but was you can see, it wasn't enough.

No presents then, apart from pole.

RS: No, not yet. Apart from pole. I think pole is very nice as I've said before but then tomorrow counts.

DC: You won't get anything else from Frank!

Do you think you could have matched the time at the end?

RS: It was difficult. It was a pretty clean lap. The strange thing about Magny-Cours seems to be that as the session seems to go on, it becomes rather slower than quicker, and it was difficult for people to match their quick times anyway. Slight improvements were possible, but not for me.

What conditions do feel would be ideal for the race?

RS: What we have today would be perfect for tomorrow. We know that from previous races, so I hope it will be that way. The forecast tells us it will be like this.

Any reservations about doing to your brother what he did to you last weekend at the start?

MS: He would never do this..

RS: No, never ever. No, it's the other way around this time. This time, he's in the car behind me, and if it similar, obviously he has to back off because he's behind me. End of story.

Michael, you went out strangely early for you ten minutes from the end.

MS: Yeah, as you saw everybody still had a run to go and we didn't want to be in that mess right at the end. We were ready to go and it was a good decision honestly but it wasn't enough.

Did you find the conditions getting slower towards the end?

MS: No, not necessarily. My third and fourth runs were the fastest ones I did although the third was spoiled a bit in the mid-sector by somebody but no I can't say that.

What would you find to be the ideal conditions for the race?

MS: The hotter the better!

For the car or for you?

MS: As you know Bridgestone has brought a new tyre here and the conditions don't actually matter for that tyre

RS: This is amazing isn't it? What about if it's snowing tomorrow? Incredible!

David, pretty spectacular some of your laps.

DC: The ones that looked spectacular weren't quick, and on my third run I thought there was a risk I might get pole so I went over the kerbs just to slow myself down so that Ralf could have a nice present.

MS: We said thanks for that before already.

RS: It was amazing, thank you very much, David.

DC: I got too out of shape on that third run and on the fourth run I tried to be a bit tidier but I'm struggling a little bit through that last sector, getting some oversteer and it's quite difficult to judge - or I found it difficult to judge - exactly how fast to go into that last corner. It's so slow and so tight and obviously a lot easier with traction control than it was but nonetheless you seem to be in that corner for a long time. I was better I think this morning than this afternoon.

Did the conditions change much?

DC: I didn't notice the track change so much. I think some tracks you do notice the change but for me my quickest run in terms of lap time was at the end, my quickest was the third run until the last couple of corners. So I was able to go a little bit slower on the last lap and be much tidier through the last section.

You sound quite confident for tomorrow.

DC: I think we have to be encouraged that we were actually so much closer here than we were at the Nürburgring. This is a lot closer than we have been in qualifying for recent races, obviously Monaco aside. I don't recall what the gap was in Canada but I think I was third on the grid there as well.

In race conditions you're equally confident?

DC: I think generally we've been a bit stronger when racing, so just applying that logic we should be better but in truth we don't know.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Michael, who was in front of you on the third run?

MS: The guy I talked to in Parc Fermé, and that was Trulli.

Michael, on your quickest run - the 12.9 - you were only slower in the middle section, was that the lap you were held up by Trulli?

MS: No. I think I lost a quarter of a second in the run before in the middle sector, the third run, that was the incident I had in Turn 6 in particular, and the consequence then that the next corner I skid, and I had my fastest first and last sector in that run I think. This should have been 'the lap'.

Michael and Ralf, are there any deep anxieties at all about the start tomorrow and have your parents had a word with you about your behaviour?

RS: My mother warned him this time! We get along fine, as with the Nürburgring it's tight again maybe but I hope not. I hope that since I'm in pole position that I have a good start and go away. That would be the perfect scenario, but if it comes down to it I would do the same - I mean I have to defend my position as he has. Normal thing, isn't it?

Where was the new pit exit this morning and what do you think for the race?

MS: We've had this problem last year when we complained that entering Turn 1 can be dangerous due to the speed difference. Now we have improved the situation discussing with the circuit, the FIA and this was the solution we found - although even that one is not 100% satisfactory because you could have a car with very high speed coming at the inside sliding to the outside and a car maybe being already on the outside. So we will take some opinion of the drivers and finally we will be taking a decision.

Michael, how are you going to feel if Ralf does to you what you did to him - are you going to have to lump it?

MS: The same as he felt to me. I think you're obviously not excited but that's the way racing goes and I have no problem with that. I have been in that situation very often in the past with other drivers to me, I have put other drivers in the same situation - that's part of racing.

-FIA

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams