French GP winners' press conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h33m35.636 2. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), + 10.399s 3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), + 16.381s We were told before the race that you had a clutch problem, did it affect you at all? Michael Schumacher: I would...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1h33m35.636
2. Ralf Schumacher (Williams), + 10.399s
3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), + 16.381s

We were told before the race that you had a clutch problem, did it affect you at all?

Michael Schumacher: I would say yes. I almost lost a position against David. We came very close in the first corner. I was inside, he was outside, so I kept it going until we would see what happened in turn three, but he pulled over already in turn one so the line was clear. But it was quite close, very close to losing it, and imagining being behind him and then working with the strategy would have been far more difficult, so it was ideal to be behind Ralf, although he was very fast in his first stint.

Did you have any problems after you took the lead?

MS: I think our strategy worked better honestly, it wasn't because Ralf had a problem, I guess, at least, from what I have seen. They stayed out longer which in my view means more fuel, longer pit stop and we were a bit shorter. My second set was really very good. I was really flying. I did have a little bit of problem on my third set, I wasn't as fast any more as I was with my second. We will find out what's going on there. Anyway, it's the perfect result. In Canada (he meant Nürburgring), we had one-two Ralf-myself and now we one-two myself and Ralf and Rubens next to us, a bit unexpected I guess for Rubens, coming from where he came; he did a perfect race, so obviously a very good day for Ferrari.

Ralf, you seemed to have a problem with the changing of one of your rear wheels at the first stop...

Ralf Schumacher: Yes, I had a pit stop problem. That's why we lost a position I guess, in the first place. But in the second stint my set didn't work at all. I was so slow, really. I was losing everything and I had to come in earlier than expected. If I would have come out in front of Michael I think it would have been difficult to hold him behind me. I am actually happy to sit here in second today because it was a disaster and really difficult to drive.

Did your team-mate, Juan Pablo Montoya, only manage to get close to you because you had this problem?

RC: Yes, I'm sure, because in the first stint I wasn't aware of him It was a shame that he had a technical problem, I don't know what it was, but otherwise he would have finished even in front of me I guess.

Rubens, you started eighth on the grid, are you surprised you're up here in third place?

Rubens Barrichello: Well, I guess I am a little bit, but in a way I sorted out my problems that I had yesterday in qualifying. Qualifying was horrible for me, I never really knew what was going on. The car was oversteering in some places, understeering in other places. This morning the car felt a lot better and I was going really well on my first stint, saving a lot of fuel at that time, and Ross came on the radio and said 'would you like to try a three stop' and I said 'I think so, it's a good idea, because then I can be quick on the track the whole time and by doing stops I might only finish in front of the Jordans, so let's try.' I think it was a really good try and I thank the team very much because it was a hell of a race.

When Ross Brawn made that decision, had David Coulthard come in for his stop-go penalty, because that must have had an effect because for the last 15 laps of the race, you had to fight incredibly hard with David right behind you?

RB: Well my first three sets of tyres were really good. The last one I think I blistered the rears so early and that was the problem. I couldn't brake for turn five and I was struggling a lot. A couple of times David almost put the car alongside me but I was able to hold on. I think starting from eighth and finishing third is a good achievement.

Back to you Michael, you have a 31 point advantage. Can you ever start to think about the possibility of winning a fourth World Championship?

MS: Unfortunately for you guys I am a bit too realistic. We have seen last year being thrown out by two races behind each other, how quickly things can turn around again, although, you have to be honest, it's a very comfortable lead that we are in now but there are still seven races to go, 70 points to give away so there's no reason to start celebrating before it's done, until mathematically nothing is secured, I will keep fighting as we have done today.


You seemed to have really enjoyed this one...

MS: Yes, yes. It was hard work and winning is always enjoyable, in the way it went today, it was fun. Number 50 is a great number. For the championship it's a big step forward and so it was obviously a very exciting race in all means.

How tiring was it out there?

MS: Magny-Cours is a tiring circuit. I still have a bit of 'flu which I caught in Nürburgring, which is not yet gone, so I'm naturally a little bit more tired than normally but the last stint of the race, because I had quite a big lead after the second stint, I could it going quite easily, so it wasn't too tough.

Is that what the sign 'Revs -2' was all about?

MS: It's just a precaution. We were in a comfortable lead, just to save the engine a bit. It's less revs.

How did your clutch problems affect you after the start?

MS: Not at all. During the pit stop you don't use the clutch in the same way as you do at the start, you just dump it and you go. At the start, you obviously want to take the performance from it, but we couldn't. We knew we had a problem. We thought we'd fixed the problem because that's why we went out to the grid fairly late, just to install everything and check everything, but on the grid we saw again a little concern but it was enough to keep, just, second place. It was pretty exciting in the first corner.

How were the tyres?

MS: As you saw, the second set compared to Ralf was really good. His first set worked fairly well against my one, but my second was really good. The last one I don't know. We need to check. It looks like there was too much pressure in the tyres because I never had the same grip that I had before. Anyway, it was enough because we just took this lead in the second stint due to some problem that maybe Ralf had at the pit stop, but probably anyway because he stopped a bit longer than us, we could have maybe jumped, but we will never find out. What we know is that we were fast in the second stint, Ralf then seemed to be a little bit faster in the third stint but not enough, luckily.

Ralf, what was the problem with your first pit stop?

RC: I don't know. I think the right rear wheel didn't get on, I just saw in the mirror that he was struggling and that he was turning to say 'no I'm not ready', but I haven't spoken to the team.

You also mentioned it was difficult to drive, in what way?

RC: Just in the first stint I was surprised how good the car was balanced, how good the tyres were and it was always a concern after my tyre choice since yesterday. I didn't want to risk a good position in qualifying but then after the pit stops I had understeer/oversteer just everywhere and it was really difficult to drive, just sliding round the whole circuit, and that's why I was so slow. With the third set it came a bit better but never as good as at the start.

You mentioned you had a problem with the brakes.

RC: The first ten laps today I just couldn't find a balance with the car. I tended to lock wheels into the hairpin and actually I was lucky to have a bit of space in the first two laps not to lose position there because I had to go wide from the beginning.

You've moved up to third in the championship, can you dream of second?

RC: I think it's possible but second or third doesn't really change a lot does it? I want us to win and obviously he (Michael) is on that for this year. I'll try next year. It would be nice if it is possible but McLaren seems to have closed the gap a little bit in performance. They had a bit of bad luck today so I'm sure it's going to be difficult.

Rubens, you had a tremendous battle with David Coulthard at the end there.

RB: I had a problem with the last set of tyres. That's the only time I had a problem. I think I blistered the realr tyres so it wasn't such a concern changing directions or putting the power down but it was braking, I had to anticipate my breaking a hell of a lot and the first time he got alongside me I braked in my normal place and almost went straight - almost off the track. The other time was with a backmarker who just didn't quickly enough. It was a good battle. At the end of the day, from where I started I wasn't thinking I could finish third in peace, it was going to be some battle.

What were those qualifying problems?

RB: Yesterday there was a little bit of a misunderstanding between the team and myself - something that I have asked was misunderstood and at the end we didn't get the car that I wanted. This morning was the proof that the balance was back.


Michael, you always say that the record doesn't mean too much to you now, but the victory number 50 sounds special for you.

MS: There is a difference, I mean some people seem to misunderstand my meaning of the thinking. There is a priority which is coming to the race weekend and fighting for the performance and the achievement. That's win the race and over the year you want to win the championship and that's what you're focused. And you're not focused to say 'I want to win the record for the most wins' or 'the record of the most championships.' That's not my target. I work each year for the championship. Obviously I'm very delighted having now achieved win number 50 but people seem to misunderstand my feeling about these statistics/ I always said they were second priority but they do mean something to me.

Ralf. There was a period during the race when Montoya was climbing all over you and there was some agitation amongst your pit crew. Were you getting any messages because of that?

RC: No I didn't get any messages but that might be a different thing. My decision was anyway after I saw my performance and Juan closing up I decided to go in earlier. The problem we had was conversation. The team got me but I couldn't hear the team, something with my earpieces went wrong so I just called the team to tell them I was coming in so whatever the team wanted I don't know.

Ralf, when did your radio fail?

RC: I don't know, I didn't hear anything from the team after the start so maybe it must have been around that time. As long as you don't speak to the team you don't notice, well at a certain stage I didn't get a real answer I just got noise in one ear. One didn't work at all.


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