Japanese GP: Winners' press conference

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h26m59.698s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h27m00.205s (+ 0.506s) 3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h27m22.990s (+ 23.292s) Q: Michael, you have increased your record to 11 wins in a season and 144 points and the...


1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h26m59.698s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h27m00.205s (+ 0.506s)
3. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1h27m22.990s (+ 23.292s)

Q: Michael, you have increased your record to 11 wins in a season and 144 points and the records keep tumbling in. It has been an incredible year for you hasn't it?

Michael Schumacher: Yes it has to be said, that is true. I don't think it is necessary to say more than that the result speak for themselves and it is fantastic -- and what has been most fantastic is that we have not been for one race. We have finished all the races and not only that, but all on the podium and that shows the quality of job the mechanics have done. It is unbelievable what they have achieved. Today has been exceptional in two ways because we have what we have done and the Japanese fans have two winners -- with me winning the Grand Prix and Sato taking his first points in his home Grand Prix so I guess the fans had a good grand prix and they were very excited.

Q: Suzuka is a circuit where you always go well, but today you opened up a gap of 2.3 seconds after a scalding start and it was job done wasn't it?

MS: Well that's the major part, yes. Yes, if you get a good start, and you get a gap, and you can plan your race, you can put everything in order to have the pit-stops at the right time. That was the only plan, honestly, because once you are out in front it is difficult to be overtaken. I have been all weekend very fast and I was not surprised that we could pull out the gap to the others, in all honesty, and the only thing you can say is 'be happy and look forward to a nice winter time and be relaxed and strong and ready for next year'.

Q: Rubens, you also made a good start and kept those McLarens behind you and then ran a clean race and you and Michael are now the most successful partnership in Formula One.

Rubens Barrichello: Yes, of course, I am very happy about that for myself and for Ferrari and being part of such a family, with such a car, it is incredible. I had a good start, but the car bottomed out too much in the first few laps and I struggled a bit. I had to be careful and Michael opened up quite a big gap to begin with and it was difficult to cope with that in a way, but as we have had such a great season, and I have two wins from the last three races, it is just a great achievement for me.

Q: This was Bridgestone's 100th Grand Prix and victory on their home circuit must have been pretty special for them today?

RB: It is, yes, and we have been together these past three or four days and it has been a wonderful season for them. They work very hard for us and we for them and it has paid off. It's a strong relationship and it is going to be even stronger next year so we are happy for them and they are happy too. To win like this for them is fantastic.

Q: Kimi, did you change your race plan after losing fourth place at the start?

Kimi Raikkonen: Maybe yes a little bit because I was stuck behind him (Ralf) before the pit stop and I was a bit quicker, but he ran longer than me and I was able to pull away.

Q: What happened at the end when you seemed to have some problems and then sped up again just before Ralf pulled out from third place?

KR: Yes, we had some problem and I don't know what it was and I had to slow down on the back straight and then when I came into the chicane and slowed down everything was normal again. Ralf then had some kind of problem with the engine or something and I was a bit lucky. But if I am lucky once a year then it is not a bad thing.

Q: How much holiday are you going to allow yourself Michael?

MS: From our point of view, it is a little bit easier because we have done our job and we can relax until the engineers come back with a new car. We are normally back testing in January and maybe we will have some reasons to go and use the three-week opportunity to go testing in November-December and we will find out if it is necessary. As said before, I'd also like to compliment Bridgestone for a superb tyre for a very special result. It was their 70th win in 100 Grands Prix and together with us and it is a superb achievement by them and I am very happy for them on their home ground. Another word I would like to say to Ross who hasn't been able to be with us this weekend. It is the first race he has missed in all his time (with us) and I think he is disappointed not to share this moment with us, but we know that you think about us and we think about you and we hope you get well soon and we look forward to seeing you in good health.

Q: Michael, are there times that you don't really believe this year has happened?

MS: No. I don't believe it's anything to do with luck. It's hard work. Our guys do get the car as reliable as they can, and what I do in the car on the other side, so I don't think really it's because of luck. In a way, it is unbelievable that it can happen. None of us would ever have expected that we would be so successful. But that's the way it is, we celebrate it, we know it will basically be impossible to repeat because I'm more than confident that unfortunately our opponents will get stronger so the situation will get tighter naturally.

Q: Does that worry you, or is that just a further challenge?

MS: It is a challenge, in all honesty, because I still feel that with what we have and what we are going to have we will still be able to fight for wins and still be a runner in the championship. Whether we win it or not is another matter, obviously, but as long as that's the case, I don't think it's really necessary to be as dominant as we are. As long as we can win races, then that's fine too.

Q: They always say that winning is like a drug, you just want more of it. When you haven't got any more of it...

MS: Well, yes, that's true. That's why I still believe that we will be able to do so, maybe not so consistently any more.

Q: What about today? The car seemed absolutely perfect.

MS: Yeah, no problem whatsoever. Bridgestone brought a fantastic tyre here which lasted and kept together very well. It was spot on. No, it has been a superb weekend. All through the weekend with the exception of the second free session on Friday it has been straightforward.

Q: Were you ever worried about the Michelin runners today with the warmer temperatures?

MS: Put it this way, it is a new tyre and we haven't been able to do a long run in these conditions so it is always an unknown. You come to a new circuit, you don't have the 100 per cent experience but we were confident it would be OK.

Q: And how was 'virtual' Ross today?

MS: Well, we know he's around and watching us. He's like Big Brother and being informed of everything. I think it has been a great job by the guys who have stepped into his shoes. It's not an easy position to fill as successfully as he has been and things we have celebrated together, but as there was no real complication today, it gave some comfort to the guys.

Q: Did he talk at all in the race, or at the end of the race?

MS: No, he didn't come on the radio. That's a bit difficult to organise. In Europe it's a bit easier but here it's a bit more difficult.

Q: Michael, just give us an idea of what happens over the next couple of weeks, now? I believe you're in Misano next week; are you still doing the final World Kart race?

MS: No, unfortunately some events have been organised in between since then so I won't be able to do this, so I think it's Misano, then a couple of events which are not really public events that I have to do, and that's it.

Q: Misano, the big celebration!

MS: Misano is going to be another big celebration, yes, but one tonight first.

Q: Rubens, well done today as well. What about Michael's start and that first lap?

RB: I had a good jump but I lost out a little bit to Michael but then when I went into the first few corners my car was really bottoming a little bit too much, and I didn't want to spin on the first few laps, so I saw him going away and then I was taking care of the tyres as well. I was putting the fight off to a little bit later, but it wasn't the case as much as it was in the US. He had a little quicker pace over the laps, and he pulled out the gap slowly more and more so when the pit stops started it was difficult to be in that one or two second lead area. It was five to six seconds, and then after the first pit stop, the tyres were doing alright but I had to come in a little bit earlier because the balance wasn't so great, so the fight was really like that. There was no way I could have gone in first place today.

Q: Was the balance the only problem today?

RB: Yeah, the car felt good all the way through, in comparison to our competitors. We may have gone a little wrong on the set-up for the race. The guess was a little different than the way the final version came about, but the car was still very competitive, the tyres were doing a fantastic job. It was just a case of when I saw that I couldn't get Michael, to keep up the pace, keep up the concentration and try to be as fast as I could.

Q: Kimi, when you had that problem on lap 48, you must have really been worrying, given the bad luck you've this year.

KR: Yes, it was a little bit funny when your car suddenly slows down and you don't really know what's going on, but luckily it recovered automatically. Just when I slowed down in the chicane, everything went normal and it was OK.

Q: Were you beginning to think 'oh no, not again?'

KR: Maybe a little bit. I don't really know what was the problem, and it was good that it fixed itself.

Q: After David had had his problem, did they come on the radio and give you different limits?

KR: No, no, I don't even know what happened to David, just that he slowed down, that's all.

Q: Any other problems during the race?

KR: No, not really. I didn't get the best start and Ralf got in front of me and then before the first pit stop I was a bit quicker than him but then he ran longer before his pit stop and pulled away a little bit more. Then I had a moment at the exit of a corner and ran a little bit wide but that was all.

Q: At the start, it seemed that you caught up David and then had to back off, which let Ralf come around you?

KR: Yeah, a little bit, but Ralf had already come up alongside me and then I went inside, but had to back off because David was there and then Ralf came around the outside.

Q: Question to Michael, some people criticised you because you were so dominant. Did you think that was a fair?

MS: In all honesty, I would rather be criticised for being dominant than being too slow. Sometimes you have to take some criticism.

Q: Last year you told us you didn't think you had had a dominant season; would you accept that you had this year?

MS: Maybe. Yes.

Q: How long are you going to carry on doing this? You've got just about every record; do you get tired of this at all?

MS: No, because - I can only repeat myself - it's not the driving that is my motivation, it's simply the love of the sport that is the drive for what I'm doing and I'm still hungry for more.

Q: Michael, when you retire, who has the best chance to be the next number one?

MS: You know I don't know when the next young generation is coming, who it will be, because it will be quite a while that I will be around.

Q: Michael, why do you think you have fewer poles than last year?

MS: I think last year we had a specific car which worked fantastically well in qualifying. Sometimes it was a little bit more difficult in the race. This year maybe we orientated a little bit more for the race. In the end, that's a little bit more important.

Q: Are Ferrari going to run this car at the start of next year?

MS: No, the plan is to have a new car for the first race next year. Honestly, if we don't achieve this, if we feel that we're not reliable and we're not ready, then we have a good machine that we could start the season with, but that's not the plan.

Q: Michael, how are important have the tyres been in this dominant season?

MS: They are very important and you have seen races - like in Australia - where we have been flying ahead of everyone and then we came to Malaysia and it was almost the other way around, only because of the tyres. Nothing else was changed physically and that shows how important tyres are.

Q: Are you going on vacation; in which country would you like to go?

MS: Maybe Japan. I don't know yet. Put it this way, I don't want to discuss my plans for the winter.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Ferrari , McLaren