French GP: Saturday press conference

1. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m11.985s 2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m12.008s (+ 0.023s) 3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m12.197s (+ 0.212s) Q: Juan Pablo, you really seemed to enjoy that. Was it the best ever? Juan Pablo Montoya:...

1. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m11.985s
2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m12.008s (+ 0.023s)
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m12.197s (+ 0.212s)

Q: Juan Pablo, you really seemed to enjoy that. Was it the best ever?

Juan Pablo Montoya: We had a great battle together. It was very close. I had a very good last lap but I made a mistake in the last corner. The finishing line was in front of me and it took ten seconds to get there and I was saying 'come on' but it was good enough.

Q: You went faster every run. Were you making changes or just changes to yourself?

JPM: We did some little changes, but just very little fine-tuning. The car was good.

Q: That was a quite eventful session for you Michael, talk us through it?

Michael Schumacher: Well, there is not much to tell that you haven't seen because it was straightforward that I missed the apex on the last chicane. I touched the kerb too hard and ran wide. It's a shame that they took away that time, but it was too slow anyway. Then we had another one in one of the fast chicanes where the car just stepped out and I had to go straight on. I thought I would try to finish and see what happened and quite rightly they took away the time. Then I had one final run left where it just happened to be second but obviously we lost all our time in the last sector but even in the first sector actually on the final run, Juan made a very good sector time. But we are very close so let's see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Coming out of the Adelaide hairpin, you seemed to adjust something below the steering wheel each time. What was it?

MS: Heating up the coffee!

Q: You can win the championship tomorrow. How badly do you want to settle it tomorrow?

MS: You know, I race for pleasure and pleasure means you fight as much as you can and whatever is possible you will do. That's it. We have good battles together, all three of us, so I'm looking forward to having another one out there.

Q: Rubens, in Parc Fermé you looked quite disappointed. Was it not up to expectations?

Rubens Barrichello: Well, I have to put it into a balance because I didn't look good this morning. The car was not working well for me, so we made a lot of changes and the car worked much better this afternoon, so I felt a little disappointed that I couldn't get completely right on the fourth run because I thought I could have done a 12.0s which at that point would have been pole. But eventually Juan Pablo went faster, so I don't think I could have set an 11.8s today, but I'm happy with things because, like I said, this morning I didn't feel good with the car and we made a lot of improvements, so it's quite a good position for the start of the race tomorrow.

Q: You kept improving during the session. Was the track changing much?

RB: No, I think it was pretty even. Magny-Cours can change a little bit with the heat but the track stayed pretty much the same.

Q: Juan Pablo, obvious questions: Fifth pole. Can you win your first race?

JPM: I have got to say that Michelin brought a lot more consistent tyre with them, we were a lot more consistent this morning on the runs that we did so I think the chances are much better than normal. I'm surprised to be on pole, to be honest. We weren't really expecting it here. We were even concerned about McLaren before the start of qualifying and good enough, at the end, we're up here. It's a good starting point for tomorrow.

Q: A great day for the Colombians today, Independence Day.

JPM: Yes, 20th of July? Yes, it's good. For me, the biggest pleasure is to get the fifth pole in such a close fight. When Michael was doing his time and they were disallowing his times, I was talking to my engineers and I was saying 'there's no real chance we're going to get the pole here, they're too quick.' But we did enough, we just kept doing it and the time just kept coming down.

Q: You mentioned the final corner. A lot of drivers seem to have a problem with it.

JPM: It's very difficult because you come in really hard and the kerb on the inside is really big. If you get in a bit early it's going to throw you off anyway, so I turned in too early on the last lap and I got a bit of oversteer and you see the start/finish line in front of you and get on full throttle and the car is just sliding, it doesn't move forward. It's a bit frustrating.

Q: What's going to be the vital element tomorrow?

JPM: To have a good consistent car. And I think we've got it. It will be quite interesting. I think the temperature is going to help us.

Q: You seem to be encouraged by the tyres.

JPM: Yeah, it's a big step forward. We thought we were going to struggle a bit in qualifying but we're on pole again so it's brilliant.

Q: But surely it's in the race that consistency matters?

JPM: Yes, but I don't know if you looked at the times this morning, they were a lot more consistent than normal. They're definitely moving forward.

Q: So you're a little bit more confident than perhaps the last few races?

JPM: Yeah, a bit more. We've got a good car and being on pole here, my fifth pole, and Michelin home ground is fantastic.

Q: Michael, we mentioned the final corners here. I guess you are going to be glad they are changing the configuration of the circuit around here aren't you?

MS: I think we all have the same problem. It is simply so slippery, especially with the heat, that it is not driving it is sliding and that is probably right for rally cars but not for Formula One cars.

Q: But did you enjoy the battle for pole?

MS: Yes, certainly. It was tight as usual, we couldn't make it again but whoops. We will find out what we can do out there tomorrow.

Q: Did the heat affect you with tyres and set-ups as it got hotter during the session?

MS: Not too much, no. As you saw we went faster. I don't know how much temperature change there was between the beginning and the end of qualifying, but to me not noticeable.

Q: You have had five wins here. How do you feel about your chances?

MS: Talk to the guys next to me and see how they feel about it.

Q: But are you feeling confident about it?

MS: I think it is a much tighter race here, but honestly we haven't got the full picture yet because yesterday things looked, let's say, a little bit more reasonable. Today they (competitors) seem to have improved the situation, so let's see what it is going to be tomorrow.

Q: Rubens, third place. You mentioned you weren't too happy with it.

RB: There are two ways of looking at it. I think if you see that this morning I didn't feel good with the car it is quite a good starting position, good on the grid, not so far away from the first two. But it is a track that if you get a little bit better here or there you can actually think of pole position. I am fairly happy. I think it went quite well improving things, good work from the engineers, we made a step forward for the afternoon.

Q: So did you improve the car all the way through the session?

RB: I think the biggest improvement has been from this morning to this afternoon and then small fine-tuning just to improve even further.

Q: But at least you found something after this morning.

RB: Yeah. The car was running strangely this morning, different ways from high speed to low speed and I got the window a little bit closer together. It is quite a good car and I think the consistency was the key, so let's hope we are more consistent than the Michelins were.

Q: Juan Pablo, by the number of pole positions, you appear to be the champion. But when will you finally be able to convert pole into victory and what is your main problem tomorrow: Your nerves, your car or just Michael Schumacher?

JPM: Every race we have got a good car, especially in qualifying. The last few races it has been really good in qualifying and it hasn't been so consistent in the race and we haven't really been able to match Ferrari's pace. I have got to say, Michelin have been working very hard to do so, and I think we are looking better here than normal, but we have to see if better than normal is quick enough to beat them.

Q: Michael, did you again make a choice of tyres looking more at the race than qualifying?

MS: We will find out.

Q: Michael, compared to other circuits, is it a big disadvantage to start from the dirty side of the grid?

MS: I don't think so, no. It is pretty much the same here. It is not a huge difference, at least from past experience to my knowledge.

Q: Michael, was it immediately clear for you that you would lose those two laps?

MS: The first one no, because it was so slow that I did not expect there would be anything. But the second one, I couldn't remember any more whether the outside wheel was still on the circuit or not, and apparently it wasn't, so it is clear.


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren