Q. Congratulations, Gerhard, on a memorable victory. Hockenheim seems to be a special circuit for you, doesn't it? GB: I seem to have been given some special powers today, but I think I know where that comes from and I am very...
Q. Congratulations, Gerhard, on a memorable victory. Hockenheim seems to be a special circuit for you, doesn't it?
GB: I seem to have been given some special powers today, but I think I know where that comes from and I am very happy about it.
Q. What did you feel when you came out of the pits after your second pit stop and saw Fisichella in front of you?
GB: I nearly lost the race because someone had blown his engine on the straight and it was so foggy that I could not see the road anymore. I almost had to stop the car, which cost me four or five seconds. At that point I honestly believed that I had lost the race. I was quite surprised that we were so close, it was only about one second, and then Giancarlo made a mistake in the second chicane. That allowed me to overtake him straightaway. Everything worked together.
Q. In addition to victory, you got pole position and fastest race lap today. Does this mean a revival in Benetton fortunes at last?
GB: Obviously it shows what potential we have. We have had potential since the beginning of the season, but for different reasons we have not been able to use it in the right way. Hockenheim is the sort of circuit where we know we can be competitive and quick, but the next circuit on the schedule has completely different characteristics. I am very interested to see how we go there. One thing which I believe is that we are going to be competitive at the end of the season, but of course we were not in close competition with anyone today: I started from pole, we had the right strategy and I had a good start. Everything worked together and we ended up in front. That is no reason to believe we are ahead, although I think we are competitive and we have a good chance to compete for points and podium places at the end of the season.
Q. Michael, your second place seems to have pleased the home crowd. How did the race go for you?
MS: I could not have hoped for better and after what happened in practice I am very pleased. I had to do an extra pit stop, due to what seem to have been some problems with the fuel rig, plus I was missing fifth gear from halfway through the race. It wasn't very easy to run the race like this.
Q. With Mika so close behind you in those last few laps, how worried were you that he might pass?
MS: Obviously we knew that we had to cope with our various problems, and I had to come in for an extra pit stop, so I had to push very hard. My problem at that stage was that I had been behind Alesi for quite a while and my tyres were finished, I had damaged them more than I would normally have done. So it was difficult to pull out the gap at the end which would be enough to come in ahead of Mika.
Q. It must have been a relief to you that Jacques Villeneuve didn't finish today. How did you learn about that?
MS: At the end of the race I asked for information about who had finished in the first six places. I was told that Villeneuve was out of the race. I have to say that I would not like to win the championship because somebody has fallen out of the race, I prefer to fight and beat someone. But we have been quicker [than Williams] all weekend and at this point I would like to congratulate Gerhard on his impressive comeback. For the championship, though, things are going well.
Q. Mika, this is your first podium finish since Melbourne. Are you surprised to be here?
MH: No, not really surprised here. But it is certainly a long time since Melbourne and my last podium finish. There are various reasons why I haven't been here recently, so let's hope that I will be able to visit you here moreoften in the future.
Q. Once again, you only made one pit stop today while both the guys in front of you were on a twostop strategy. Should you have done the same as them?
MH: I was in a situation where a two stop strategy might not have worked. When you are on the front row, and leading at the first corner, two stops will help a lot. If you are not in that situation, though, two stops is the wrong choice. That's why we chose to make one stop.
Q. Gerhard, what are your plans before you go to the Hungaroring for the next race?
GB: I will be testing at Silverstone this week, and I have to do some more fitness training. I have to catch up with my fitness because Hungary is a very hard circuit physically and it is usually very hot there. I am really looking forward to it because I like the circuit very much.
For this and the other press conferences see: http://www.fia.com/presse/f1conf-en
--- David Goodwin