German GP race winners' press conference

1. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:25:34.418 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), +7.452 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +21.168 Q. Rubens, hearty congratulations. Yesterday you said it was the worst day of the season, but today must ...

1. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:25:34.418
2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), +7.452
3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +21.168

Q. Rubens, hearty congratulations. Yesterday you said it was the worst day of the season, but today must surely be the best day of your life. After eight years in F1 and 123 GP starts, to have come from 18th place to your first win must be worth celebrating. How does it feel?

Rubens Barrichello: I just feel great. On the last lap I heard the guys telling me I was going to win, but it's such a long lap here. Also, it's been such a long time [since my last victory] that I had almost lost the taste. And I can promise you that it was getting more and more tricky today, because the rain was falling in separate places. Yesterday was such a bad day that I was just thinking to myself that this one had to be mine. I told myself it could come good, so let's make it as simple as possible. But I still can't believe it ...

Q. The race was won by the decision to stay out on dry-weather grooved tyres at the end, when it was raining hard in the stadium section. Who made that decision?

RB: This is a team, we are a big family. Ross told me, 'Mika is coming in,' and I said, 'I want to keep an eye on things, let's stay out for one lap more.' After that lap he said, 'just keep on going, Rubens, because you're going to win if you keep up this pace.' It was great, because the slicks were still doing really well on the straights and in the three chicanes. But with six or seven laps to go I flat-spotted the left front at the third chicane, because it was spitting a little bit. That was worrying, and I couldn't see the track very well. So I paid the price ... but it worked out great.

Q. You had a scintillating first run before the first of your two pit stops. Right at the beginning of the race there was an incident at the first corner: what view did you have of that moment?

RB: To be honest with you, I only saw that Michael was out of the race when I got close to Pedro de la Rosa and Jarno Trulli, because it was then that I started to count. I was so busy until that moment that I hadn't realised that he wasn't on the track.

Q. Mika, you managed to leap from 4th to first place at the start. How were you able to make such a good start?

Mika Hakkinen: It was a fantastic start and I have to admit that something as good as that doesn't happen often. Certainly David and I do practise starts a lot during the test days, but this was one of the starts that will definitely have to go in the record book of my career. It is all thanks to the team, too. It is my engineers who work out the tactics for the start, and that way I am able to make a good start. And I knew that unless I got into a good position at the first corner, then life would be very difficult after that. But it worked. Thanks!

Q. You almost had the race won at the beginning of the first Safety Car period when you came into the pits for tyres. Normally at McLaren it's the driver who has qualified the faster who gets first call of pit stops. What happened today?

MH: Well, the team called me in. I obviously have to follow orders, and the decision came in my favour. I am still surprised, to be honest. It could probably have happened differently, but this time it went in my favour. That's it ...

Q. Looking back, and considering that Rubens won today on dry-weather tyres, do you think it was the right decision to have made that final stop to change to rain tyres?

MH: In one sense maybe, but you could also say that if I had stayed on slicks I would have gone off and ended up in the barrier. We had a good car today, but it was not easy to drive. So if we had continued on slicks our lives would have been really, really difficult. So on the other hand we have to say that we are really happy with this result.

Q. David, at the start you made a very definite 'one move' across the front of Michael Schumacher's car. Was that revenge?

David Coulthard: No (laughs) ... I just got too much wheelspin. I knew I was making a bad start from the moment I went off the line. So I just wanted to try to make it as difficult as we are allowed for someone to pass me. But in the end I don't actually know how close anyone else was behind me. All I saw was Mika passing me ...

Q. How frustrating was it to be sitting behind that first Safety Car in the knowledge that almost everyone else had changed tyres and you hadn't? At that point it looked as though the team had called in Mika when it should have been you, as a result of which you were unlikely to score any points at all ...

DC: That may be how it appears, but in fact there was a little confusion on my part. I was due to pit on that lap anyway, but I didn't hear the radio in the Stadium section, and then Mika pitted in front of me. At that point I didn't know the Safety Car was out, so I thought there must have been some confusion over which one of us was coming in. That's why I went past and continued. Then I realised the Safety Car was out. It is just one of those unfortunate days when things didn't work out [in my favour]. Yes, it could have been a big help if I had stopped [as planned] on that lap. But I am still happy to be sitting here with four points and getting closer than ever to the world championship leader.

Q. At the end of the race you waited until a couple of laps after Mike to change on to wet tyres. Why did you do that when you knew that Rubens was still running with no problems on dry weather tyres?

DC: It's too simplistic to say he was having 'no problems.' I am sure that from his point of view it was incredibly difficult, as it was for everybody else. I wanted to wait, as Rubens explained earlier, to find out exactly what the difference in lap times was [between wets and dries]. Then it got to the point where I made a decision - and it was a late one, because I made it just one corner before I got to the pitlane entrance - that it was already pretty wet and the rain was falling all the way down to the chicanes. I thought a change to wets would be the right way to go, because if you're just changing tyres the stop doesn't take as long as it would if you're also taking on fuel. I don't know where I would have finished if I'd stayed on the grooved tyres, but at the point where I pitted I was in 4th or 5th place - and here I am now in 3rd. It's worked out better for my championship hopes this way than the way it was running before the Safety Car.

Q. Rubens, you're still in 4th place in the drivers' championship, but now you're only ten points behind your team mate Michael Schumacher at the top of the table. Do you feel you now have a chance of being champion?

RB: Hey look, let's talk about this win! It's been such a long time. It's good to work with Ferrari, too: everyone's been talking about number 1 and number 2 drivers, but that doesn't matter. They give me the car and the car worked perfectly. Yes, I was lucky today, because of the incident on the first lap and the way my strategy worked out so well. Let's have a party tonight and enjoy a good time.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren