French GP: Winners' press conference

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h32m09.837s 2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h32m10.941s (+ 1.105s) 3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h32m41.812s (+ 31.976s) Q: Michael, a great achievement, your fifth World Championship, equalling the record of the...


1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h32m09.837s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h32m10.941s (+ 1.105s)
3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h32m41.812s (+ 31.976s)

Q: Michael, a great achievement, your fifth World Championship, equalling the record of the great Juan Manuel Fangio. How do you feel?

Michael Schumacher: Yeah, how do you feel? I've never been good at these moments to find appropriate words, in all honesty. It just has overcome me. I've been very relaxed all weekend, I didn't think about the championship all weekend, honestly, because I sort of felt it's not going to happen here. Obviously I saw Rubens stopping and I saw the pace we had compared to Montoya and, well, I slowly started to believe in it and then obviously I had this mistake, or my mistake, getting out of the pit lane crossing the white line. I don't know by how much, but I guess it was millimetres rather than centimetres - but anyway, over is over - and then all was gone again. Then we had such an eventful race with the drive-through and then several attacks with Kimi who drove a fantastic race but it wasn't supposed to happen, and I didn't believe in it anymore.

Ten laps from the end I started to push again, pick up the pace and put some pressure on him and you never know what might happen. I don't think the pressure, that much, was the problem for Kimi because if you don't see the oil, you don't see it and that's it, wherever you break. I was obviously warned by seeing his problem, so I was reacting a little bit to it and that was my opportunity. And then suddenly the championship was back in my pocket and that was something I have put aside all weekend because I didn't believe in it, so I didn't really feel the pressure for it, and suddenly, when I was leading and feeling that's going the championship. I think that was the worst five laps I have had in my career because the weight was on my shoulders, the pressure was on not to make mistakes and not do anything wrong. Although then it's very difficult to overtake once you're in front, it's still enormous and the sort of outbreak I had was pretty heavy.

That's when I realised how much pressure I was probably under, which I hadn't realised before. I was just so glad that we have achieved this together with a tremendous team, with people behind who you can just love and can just admire with the effort that they put in, the workload, the motivation they have. It's probably wrong to mention names because we are so many of us. I really love all those guys because we have such a great relationship and it's fantastic to achieve this all together. Thank you is very small words for what you have done for me, thank you very much.

Q: Kimi, with a few laps to go you were about to win your first Grand Prix. What happened there at the Adelaide hairpin?

Kimi Raikkonen: There were yellow flags but obviously not any flags for the oil or slippery circuit. I think a Toyota or something had blown up their engine or something was there, just oil, and I locked up the front wheel, the front right and Michael got past.

Q: Talk us through the rest of your race because you obviously had a very good race car here?

KR:</B> Yeah, the car was great, the team was making very good pit stops, everything was working fine. It was just my mistake that we lost the race. It was the most disappointing race of my life but that's the way it goes, and next time I hope we can win.

Q: David, a massive return to form for McLaren this weekend, a great strategy but unfortunately you fell foul of that pit lane exit. Talk us through it.

David Coulthard: Well, I didn't realise. Obviously, you don't play with the white line, really, you know you won't win against crossing it but I genuinely didn't realise. But I just have to accept that I made the mistake and you pay the price. It ultimately wouldn't have affected my on-track position too much, I don't think. Obviously, I feel for Kimi because I think from where I was sitting - I don't know how it looked on television - but I thought it was a great race we were all having, the Ferrari, the McLarens and the Williams running so close together. I was really enjoying myself. I thought he drove really well up front and obviously got caught out on the oil. But obviously big congratulations to Michael because it's an extraordinary record that he has in Formula One and I think his speech there to his guys was very fitting, so I think a good day all round.

Q: That last stint that you had was quite exciting because you set off with the three fastest laps which we had seen all day and then some problems. What happened those last few laps?

DC: I don't actually know what the problem was but I'm presuming it was an oil pressure or engine related problem because I was asked to short shift and slow my pace down by three seconds a lap so I guess the other thing might be that not all the fuel went in at the pit stop but I just need to go back to the team and find out afterwards.

Q: Michael, it's off to the new Hockenheim, a great place for a party, and I remember before that you said that you were looking to the races where you could just race and your home race and the atmosphere there...

MS: Yeah, but in all honesty, after 2000, after the championship, I said that, that we will race from now on, it's just the pleasure of racing. It is maybe not 100 per cent true because the championship is the sort of target you would like to achieve, certainly, and after we have achieved this, we can obviously now concentrate race by race and just enjoy it and do the best we can - and that's hopefully getting in some more exciting races and maybe good positions.

Q: Michael, I think I've spoken to you after every title that you've won but this one seems to very, very special for you, very emotional.

MS: Yeah, they've all been special in different ways. You cannot compare one to the other and that's what is so great about it. Each win, actually, has been different to each other and there's never been the moment where you get used to something. You still enjoy it and feel fantastic about it.

Q: Right from the start of the race itself it was fantastic and pretty lively up at Adelaide as well. Tell us about it.

MS: As you saw, we were all quite a bit faster than Montoya who for whatever reason in the race didn't find a good pace, especially in the beginning. The first three, four or five laps and we got our opportunities and that was quite a moment when I tried outside and then Kimi dived inside and we all went down to the next chicane which was quite tight. But that's good racing, I mean, I really enjoyed that, and then suddenly we got into the rhythm and there was no overtaking chances any more. Thanks to the pit we jumped (up the order) and we had to go straight back again because of passing the line, so it was quite an eventful race, a lot of things happened and they were very entertaining.

Q: Before Kimi went wide at the end, did you think you were going to be able to get past him? Were you lining up to give him a big challenge towards the end?

MS: I was pushing very hard immediately after the pit stop. Then I took it a little more easy, because I didn't find any opportunity. About ten, eleven laps from the end, I started to pick up the pace again and just try. Honestly, I don't think I would have found a way without a mistake or a back-marker in the right position, to find a way by, there wouldn't have been, because he drove fantastic race and he was in the right moments he was enough in front of me so that I couldn't get a go at him. It was just lucky, and I didn't really expect anything happening like that, honestly, but that's the way motor sport is - you have to go until the end and something you get your opportunity.

Q: Were there any yellow flags where he went off?

MS: There was yellow flags. I don't remember whether there was an oil flag and I immediately came on the radio 'did I overtake under the yellow or not' but then, honestly, I think in a such a situation, as it was after the exit or the incident or whatever, I think there wasn't. I don't know. I just drove my normal line. Obviously, he was quite far off-line, but I was concerned at that moment, but there didn't seem to be any problem.

Q: What were your feelings on that final lap, what was going on, what were the messages in the helmet?

MS: I think you have probably seen more than I can explain, honestly. That's rather difficult. I was not feeling any sort of pressure before the race because honestly I didn't believe it was going to happen here. I was pretty sure that one of the two at least was going to finish in the position not to let it happen and that wasn't the case after both were behind and I was suddenly up front and that was the worst five laps I've had in my career, I would say, and they didn't want to finish, they went on forever. It's these moments when you feel how much load you have and how much it means to you, how much you love the sport and how determined you are and when you finally you pass the flag and everything goes away and you know you have done it, that's a fantastic moment, unbelievable and you just get an outbreak of emotions and...I'm sorry, I can't find the words for it.

DC: If it feels so good, you want to spread it around a little bit. He's keeping it all to himself.

Q: Kimi, we do feel enormously for you. You say it was your worst race but at the same time it was your best ever finishing position.

KR:</B> Yeah, but it was so close to winning the race for sure it was my worst five laps from the end but those things happen. Anyway, I haven't had much good luck this year. Of course it was my mistake because I saw only the yellow flag and no oil flag. I am still quite disappointed not to win the race.

Q: But do you feel you will sometime?

KR:</B> For sure, I will do my best. You see everything can happen here if you are next time leading the race and I try to do better next time. The team was working well and everything went in the right way, the pit stops were great, there were no problems that we had in the last race. I had a perfect car and just a little mistake and I just finish second.

Q: What about that first lap down at Adelaide. It was pretty lively.

KR:</B> Yeah. I had a small opportunity to try to get second place but I was a bit slow on the straight and Michael got past on the outside and then I just thought it would be better to stay behind both Williams and him and try to keep up with them. Eventually I saw after the first pit stop that we had a really good pace and car, and maybe we can win, and it was close but it never comes before you finish first.

Q: David, were you expecting McLaren to be so competitive here?

DC: Actually, I didn't expect us to be really fighting for the lead and obviously had Michael not had his stop-go then it might not have looked quite so close, so effectively we are still a little bit behind but nonetheless you saw today our car was a lot more competitive than it has been, as it has been the whole weekend. I was surprised by our relative pace to Williams at the beginning of the race and obviously Michael until he was able to get by Montoya. Just looking at the laps from the end, where our fastest laps are and everything, it is all quite close. It does surprise me.

I didn't go into the race thinking we could be so strong but you go in trying to do the best job you can with the tools. I expected the car to have a lot of oversteer but it never happened. I had a lot of understeer and I was putting front wing in and dropping pressure during each of the pit stops which I just never imagined I would have asked the team to do. It just shows that every new circuit we go to we are driving these tyres for the first time on these tracks so we don't really have a database of what's going to happen like we did in the past and it is encouraging for the future. I said to Michael earlier, from where I was sitting it looked like a great race even when I was running around in fifth place I thought even if I finish fifth I am enjoying this because everyone is close together and opportunities might come. That is what racing should be like and I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

Q: Were you being held up a lot by Ralf?

DC: Yeah. As soon as he went in for his stop I went three quarters of a second quicker on the next lap. The problem was where I was quick was where he was slow and where he was quick I wasn't particularly good. Through turn three he was much better than me and I was still picking up some dirty air which was exaggerating the understeer and obviously he was very quick down the straight into Adelaide hairpin but I was much better on each of the brakings and into eight and into thirteen and into the last corner. But you can't run your line when there is a car in front. It was interesting when I could run alone.

Q: Michael, you have won again and you have been in the lead for many years. When will the moment come when you are tired of being the first?

MS: I will tell you.

Q: Michael, congratulations. That has now equalled with Fangio. How does that make you feel and have you considered this moment?

MS: I have obviously been asked very often about it but personally I have to apologise because I am not considering it too much because I feel, and I have mentioned this very often, what Fangio has done in his time is not comparable to what we do, and I think the effort that he had to put in at the time was probably a lot more than just being a driver than in these days, where you have so many people around you, where you have a lot more teamwork than you had in the past. I feel it is not appropriate to compare these things, at least from my point of view, and I simply enjoy the achievement myself without trying to compare it to someone.

Q: Michael and David, you two are not the only ones crossing the white line. Is it difficult to see or is it just the heat of the moment?

MS: For me it was the heat of the moment, in all honesty. I was having a radio conversation at the same time and watching in the mirrors rather than on the circuit so it is probably a little bit more difficult here than somewhere else because it is in the corner, it is going downhill and uphill. But we are racers and Formula One drivers and we should actually be able to drive without touching the line or going over it.

DC: The line was in the same place all weekend but you know that you are trying to get back onto the racing line because you know that is going to make the difference between keeping your place or not. It is interesting that Michael said he was having a radio conversation. Maybe if the team were telling me that there wasn't someone right behind me at that moment then I would not have taken such a risk. But immediately I saw the line I tried to cut as quickly as I could to get my line. Well, of course, if there was no-one behind me at the point it was a bit of a wasted exercise. It is something we can learn for the future but it was just my mistake. I was too eager to get to the racing line.

Q: Kimi, when you were leading, how much pressure and tension were you feeling?

KR:</B> I didn't feel much pressure because I saw the gap was not really closing and it was rather getting bigger. Of course, maybe ten laps from the end Michael was catching me a little bit, but I was taking it a bit more easy because I saw I was not getting much pressure from behind and it wasn't really anything to do with the pressure for myself. The mistake came, it was just my mistake, I just locked a wheel on the oil and the lead was gone, but that's life.

Q: Kimi, you have already signed your contract with the team so did it give you more confidence and motivation in the race?

KR:</B> No. Actually, I don't know what is going to happen next year yet. I hope we will know more next weekend in Hockenheim. It was as normal race as any other races this year.

Q: Michael, I know you want to enjoy this moment as much as you can but do you already feel the hunger to go one more and win six championships to take the outright record?

MS: I have it but not for the reason you just mentioned. It is simply the pleasure of racing and trying to achieve as many good races as we can and ultimately you achieve, hopefully, a further championship. We are in such good shape team-wise, performance-wise, we can keep that sort of performance for quite a bit longer and keep having races like we have had today or before, which I think were very exciting. That is what we live for, why we love the sport and what we enjoy mostly.

Q: Michael, what was the first thing the people in the pits told you when you crossed the finish line?

MS: Imagine.

Q: I can't

MS: Obviously, Jean came on the radio to confirm what's the story, what I have achieved. Although I am a good calculator so I knew myself, but he sort of confirmed and he was all excited. You hear all the team in the background being all excited and it is a wonderful feeling.

Q: Michael, did you cry inside your helmet or before the podium ceremony?

MS: I was excited and emotional, yes.

Q: Michael, I would just like to ask how you are going to celebrate tonight. I heard you are going to smoke a cigar very peacefully at home.

MS: We haven't arranged anything so we will have to see what comes up and find out. I don't know what I am going to do, I have no idea.

Q: But the cigar?

MS: I think everybody knows that I do that after the race so there is no sort of secret, but I don't see the need to mention it to the whole world. I am sort of an idol to the young kids and I shouldn't be smoking, so please...

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Kimi Raikkonen , Juan Manuel Fangio
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams