1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m31.317s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m31.749s (+ 0.432s) 3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1m32.088s (+ 0.771s) Q: Michael, a masterful qualifying performance. Please talk us through it. Michael Schumacher:...
Q: Michael, a masterful qualifying performance. Please talk us through it.
Michael Schumacher: Obviously, it is no secret. We have a great car and that allows us to do what we are doing, which is to be faster, after all the development that Bridgestone has done it is no surprise either. Basically it is great fun to throw the car through the 'esses' and to do the times we do.
Q: At the end, you went faster. Was this just to have a real laugh?
MS: No, because several cars were still out - and they were able to improve - and at the time I went out it was not 100 per cent clear, although we were pretty optimistic. Once I went out, there was no point to coming in again and I was on my flying lap. I wanted to finish it and see what we could do because we made a set up change on the car and I wanted to develop it.
Q: Rubens, how did you stay cool and calm in the long delay after Allan McNish's accident?
Rubens Barrichello: First of all, you want to know if the driver is okay and so we wanted to know if Allan was okay. Then we got our concentration back and went off again to the racing car. By the time we knew about the restart, it was a case of just getting on with it and doing a quick lap.
Q: Rubens, you did a spectacular final lap didn't you?
RB: It was a really good lap and I was enjoying myself. The car, as Michael said, is good out there and especially through the 'esses'. I had a good lap, but I made a small mistake in the T3 over the kerbs, into my last section, but I would only have improved by a couple of tenths - and Michael went even further. So I think second position is good enough today.
Q: David, you were one of many on a flying lap when the red flags came out for Allan's accident. How much did that affect you?
David Coulthard: I think the reason I went faster was because it was a bit cooler. But the lap Allan crashed, I was already three-tenths up on what I had done previously, so, obviously, I was able to improve another three-tenths towards the end of the session. I was able to use the scrubbed tyres to do a run, just an out and once past, prior to putting the new tyres on, because I won a lap back from the red flag - and I am glad I did that because it is amazing how, in 45 minutes or so, you can lose the momentum around this circuit.
Q: Was it your aim to finish ahead of the Williams' team today?
DC: Yes, of course. You aim for more, but, realistically, that was where we would have been happy to be and I am personally very happy with my performance here this weekend so far and, from the team's point of view, the immediate goal has been to be in front of Williams. Obviously, we don't have any more opportunities this year, but it shows we've progressed through the season and we can be a little closer to Ferrari next year.
Q: Back to you Michael, if you win, or finish second or third, you will have been on the podium at every race this year. It has been quite a year hasn't it?
MS: Yes, as you say. That's true! It has been a (special) year in all senses, but let's see if I can get on the podium tomorrow first... But to finish every race, or to be on the podium, it is quite a thing and it shows the team's effort. The reliability doesn't come from nothing. It comes from some very serious work from all our engineers, every day, and it (the reliability) is obviously the best, better than that of all the other teams.
Q: Was the delay an advantage or a disadvantage? How did it affect you?
MS: I guess it was the same for everyone. Everyone had time to analyse a little bit and more importantly, have time to see what was going on with Allan.
Q: It seems the weekend has gone perfectly so far?
MS: Yeah, obviously with the exception of the hydraulic problem we had yesterday, no problem.
Q: How is it working with the 'virtual' Ross?
MS: It's like he's sitting next to us. It's obviously different but it's OK. We are all so used to hearing his voice, we all know that he's always with us. If you see the circumstances that he's in with all the pain, it's quite an effort that he's making.
Q: After Indianapolis, say you're in the lead tomorrow, how would you like to win?
MS: The point is if I can win first of all. Naturally I would like to win this race. I was able to give back to me what Rubens gave to me in Hungary (He probably means Austria) therefore it's sort of zero and that's where we start.
Q: Rubens, you said that you screwed up the last sector and on the last run you had a locking brake as well. That last one could have been really quick, couldn't it?
RB: I was a little bit more polite. The T3 was a little bit difficult for me today because it wasn't so much at 130R, it was more under braking. There was a little mark of white cement on the track, so I just messed up a couple of times, and the last time I locked up a little bit and I slowed the car a little bit too much and got a kerb - I basically lost a couple of tenths there but it wouldn't have had an effect on the grid.
I would have probably done a better time than Michael's previous one which would have been a 31.5s or something but he did a 31.3s at the end, so I don't think that that would have put me on pole. But I'm a happy man because Suzuka is all about getting the car working for yourself and Michael has been fantastic doing that all the years he's been here and last year I struggled so much with an understeering car. I made a lot of improvements and the effort paid off. I was quickest in sector two, one and a half tenths slower in T1 which is really strong and I was fast in T3, we could have been the same, but I am still quite happy on what is quite a racing track.
Q: Did you do a lot of changes during the session itself?
RB: Yeah, a little bit. We actually had 45 minutes to an hour to work. It was like in between test sessions. We just got out of the car, did a map and had a bit more time to change the car.
Q: David, after yesterday, could you have hoped for a little bit better than third?
DC: I think, realistically, third was what we were aiming for. You aim for the top and if you look at Ferrari's performances so far this year, there's no reason to expect them to struggle around this track. Bridgestone have a lot of knowledge so they were always going to be in good shape. It was a question of trying to be the first of the Michelin runners.
Q: What about the race itself, are you more optimistic for that?
DC: I'm pretty satisfied so far with the way the weekend's gone, therefore I think I can have a reasonable race but whether that means I can race the Ferraris or not, I think probably unlikely, but you never know. The weather conditions might play into our hands and we just do the best we can.
Q: Michael, after you saw Allan's shunt are you maybe going to ask for more tyre wall there?
MS: You know after such a situation, there's no point in discussing the changes immediately because it's something that you need to see properly because neither of us have seen the accident properly There's an angle where you don't actually see the impact so I think first of all you should have the information and then see what you do.
Q: Michael, I'm going to ask about Indianapolis again because there's quite a lot of confusion after you told slightly different stories after the race. I have a question for you about what exactly happened on the banking. You did move up the banking as you approached the line. There's a lot of dirt and dust and rubber up there; can you tell us if you got into that dust and rubber and you had to get off the gas and that may have resulted in the loss of impetus that you had.
MS: No, this was not the consequence. I was in the dust but I didn't need to back off as much as I did.
Q: So the backing off was your decision?