Italian GP Saturday press conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:23.770 2. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:23.797 3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:23.967 Q. Congratulations, Michael, on the 29th pole position of your career, here at Monza in front of your tifosi. This...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:23.770
2. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1:23.797
3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:23.967

Q. Congratulations, Michael, on the 29th pole position of your career, here at Monza in front of your tifosi. This time, you were actually disputing pole position with your team mate. How did that feel?

Michael Schumacher: Honestly, it's a good thing, because if we can be fighting like this it means that the car is competitive. And for the championship, if we two can be up front, Rubens will obviously be able to give me a big support. Let's see whether it's him supporting me or me supporting him - we'll find that out tomorrow - but anyway, if we are [both] there it will be better for the championship battle. We haven't had this occasion very often so far, so obviously we are very glad to be back on the road.

Q. We noticed that you, unusually, did two timed laps on your first run, then two runs of one timed lap, and spent the final ten minutes of the session in the garage with two laps in hand. What happened there?

MS: Yep! I missed my first possibility. In the first lap I went wide in the first chicane, so I had to go for a second run. That wasn't really predicted, and it meant that either I had to [risk sacrificing] my last run or go for it again [early, when the traffic was lighter]. You never know what's going to happen at the end, so I decided it would be better to go for it. It was therefore a rather unusual qualifying and we didn't make the best of it, but still it was good enough. So there is no reason to complain and we are quite happy with the situation right now.

Q. After this seventh Ferrari pole position of the season you will be in a similar starting position to Hungary, with Mika Hakkinen directly behind you on the grid. However, Ferrari has not always performed well this year with the race setup. How confident are you with the setup for tomorrow's race?

MS: [This is] not like Hungary - let's put it that way! But then we still have to find out tomorrow what it will be like in reality. We could talk in length, but I prefer to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

Q. Rubens, I am sure you are enjoying being on the front row of the grid for the second time this season. Do you feel you will be required to support Michael tomorrow, or do you expect to be running your own race?

Rubens Barrichello: Well, first we must [be allowed to] be happy with ourselves, because we were trying everything we could when we were here [for the testing] last week. It's good to have the team up there. Michael has been fighting hard for this championship, so to have the car [running] competitively here in the home of Ferrari is really nice. I had a really good qualifying: at the end I thought I would be able to get everything together and put in an even better run. Now I am just happy to be on the front row.

Q. You appear to have been much more satisfied with your car all weekend. Has there been a change in it, or in you, over the past few weeks?

RB: People have been saying loads of things about the last two races, but I was quite unlucky [in both of them]. I had traffic in Hungary, and there were problems with the car at Spa in qualifying. The problems in those two races were down to [bad] luck and I am much happier with the car here. I can run at a good pace [both] with full tanks and in qualifying trim.

Q. Mika, in all four of your runs you were only a couple of tenths behind the Ferrari boys. Do you feel you got the maximum out of the car today?

Mika Hakkinen: In terms of driving, I thought I got the best out of the car. But the way the car was handling there were some areas where it could have been better. That was certainly one of the reasons why I was not able to go two tenths quicker.

Q. When the session was over, you took a very close look at the backs of the two Ferraris. Why was that?

MH: It is always interesting to look at your competitors' cars. You don't necessarily always learn anything. But sometimes there are differences that make you think and wonder why they have it that way. It's just curiosity, nothing else. I was just interested to look at it.

Q. In the last few Grands Prix McLaren has been particularly strong under race conditions. Here, though, both you and David have had a disrupted weekend. Do you think the cars are now at their optimum for the race?

MH: I believe we will be able to find solutions for tomorrow. That way we will make the car quicker, and I am confident we will be able to find the balance we need for the long race runs. Because this circuit is quite heavy - on the engine and particularly on the brakes - it will be interesting to see what happens.

Q. Michael, you must be hoping that immediately after the start tomorrow you will stay in front of the other 21 drivers in this race. What are your feelings about that first corner?

MS: Similar to Monaco. It's tight. Everyone has to be reasonable. And that is about it. Unless there is some discipline there, we can have a crash on any circuit at any time. So it is simply down to discipline.

Q. Do you expect it to be clear and clean?

MS: Everybody knows about this problem, everybody knows it's very tight. If not, then [any incident there] will be the fault of whoever [ignores the danger]. But I think there is still an opportunity for everyone to get through the corner without having a crash, because there are huge run-off areas on the far side which you can take to avoid [hitting] other cars - if you want to. Let's see what happens.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren