French GP Saturday press conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:15.632 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:15.734 3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:16.047 Q. Congratulations, Michael, on the 27th pole position of your career. After last week's testing here, how well...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:15.632
2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:15.734
3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:16.047

Q. Congratulations, Michael, on the 27th pole position of your career. After last week's testing here, how well have you been able to prepare for this race?

Michael Schumacher: You have the opportunity to prepare yourself, to get the car right and to get yourself right. I am not saying it happened this time, but often when we have prepared for the race weekend [in testing] we then find that certain conditions have changed and factors - the choice of tyre, for example - have become so crucial that you must change all the ideas you have developed during testing. So you must be very careful not to be too fixed in your mind, so that you can react to whatever is happening during the weekend. We did that here and I believe we have done a good job.

Q. How much did you change the car in this final qualifying?

MS: Not very much. As you saw, my first run was spot on. We made some little modifications to improve that, but it was obviously very difficult to improve the time.

Q. It still seems amazing that the lap time you recorded on your first run was still a whole half second quicker than anybody else all the way through the rest of the session ...

MS: The reason for that is that I got my first run right while some other people still had room to improve. As we have seen, David [Coulthard] was out in the T-car, which is a car he hadn't driven all weekend. We don't know how things would have been if he had started [the session] in his race car. But we have had good testing here, and we got some good knowledge from testing new developments. We have no worries, honestly: things are going quite smoothly with us. But then it's a long way to go tomorrow. We hope it continues like this.

Q. David, with so many technical problems involving your car in these past two days, and with your having to change chassis constantly, including in qualifying, how difficult was it for you today?

David Coulthard: I have certainly had a lot of problems over the past two days. I feel particularly for the poor mechanics, because they have had to work under pressure while at the same time checking things while rebuilding the car. Every time they have changed one part it has run fine ... until the next part has broken! I thank them for that, but it's not the ideal preparation for qualifying.

Q. What was the problem this morning?

DC: There were a number of problems. An oil tank was cracked, then we had an air valve problem, then something else ... I have lost count of what happened. So I hid myself away in the truck while the guys looked after the problems. But I don't feel I am short of race preparation because we have driven round here a lot in testing. Also, I have been racing here since 1995, so I feel I know the track reasonably well.

Q. We saw you getting a little upset during the session with Ralf Schumacher ...

DC: It wasn't Ralf in particular [who caused me to get upset], it would have been any driver who pulled out in front of me in Turn 1. This is something that we had already discussed in the drivers' briefing, because it is very difficult to see when another car is [coming up behind you] there, due to the mirrors and the angles at which they are mounted. The marshals are supposedly there to help with [situations like] that. I don't know whether Ralf was coming out particularly slowly, but I met him right in the middle of Turn 1. That is not what anyone would choose to happen with another driver, because apart from ruining the [quicker driver's] lap, it can also be dangerous. From the point of view of all the drivers, this is something we need to look at for next year.

Q. Rubens, you left your run for third place right to the end of this session. Did you find many developments to make during the session?

Rubens Barrichello: We had a bit of a problem, because we were trying something new on the car. My first outing was quite good: the car felt quite quite well balanced but I wanted to make even more changes to improve the setup. Some of the changes got out of hand, and I [wasted] two runs playing with the setup. Finally I came back to the setup that I had used on the first run, and the car was good again. The track was a little hotter by then. It is good to be in third position.

Q. The surface here at Magny-Cours is smoother than at any other circuit we visit. Does the smoothness permit you more freedom with the setup?

RB: It's not just the smoothness, it's [the characteristic of the asphalt itself] which changes when it gets hot, because it requires some changes in the setup. It's quite a difficult circuit on which to get things right, even after three days testing last week and two days in preparation for tomorrow. I think this is going to be a good race.

Q. Michael, after winning here four times you must surely regard this as a special track. Do you know any secrets about Magny-Cours which other drivers might not know?

MS: Honestly, no. I believe the circumstances here have to be right. This is not a circuit with which I am particularly in love, because of features like the fact that it gets so slippery when it's hot. I wouldn't say it is much fun in that condition. In winter time, yes, it can be a great circuit when it's cold. Obviously, though, it's been good enough for me so far this weekend.

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