Malaysian GP winners' press conference

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:47:34.801 2. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), +23.660 3. David Coulthard (McLaren), +28.555 Q. Michael, your sixth win in a rwo, but on the team radio on the slowdown lap we heard you say to Ross it was a bit...

1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:47:34.801
2. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), +23.660
3. David Coulthard (McLaren), +28.555

Q. Michael, your sixth win in a rwo, but on the team radio on the slowdown lap we heard you say to Ross it was a bit boring at the end. Was it boring at the beginning?

Michael Schumacher. I didn't say boring, you must have misunderstood something. I said it won't be as easy for the future, we have to keep pushing. No: you can't call this race boring. It was exciting! I thought it was all finished by whatever lap number when the rain started and I went off the circuit. I was seeing the barrier already very close and thinking, that's my part now, and then I saw Rubens coming by next at the same corner. So actually we were lucky that the cars stood in shape and didn't get heavily damaged, and we were able to do the race we did, finally.

Q. Once the Safety Car came in you were five seconds a lap faster than everybody else. Why was that?

MS. First of all, I think I had, we both had intermediate tyres on, compared to some drivers who had rain tyres on. I think that's a bit of a difference, although I was behind Jos, and he was flying - he was on rain tyres, I think, he was the fastest car basically out there. I thought it would be a lot easier to overtake him, but he was going very well and he made it very difficult for me.

Q. How much of a gamble, and whose decision, was it to put you on intermediate tyres in the middle of a monsoon?

MS. It's a driver's call, actually. We knew that if it was going to be a shower we might struggle for a few laps and it would be better for the end, and that's the way it was.

Q. Rubens, you too were involved in those incidents in the first few laps and it culminated in you having a very long pit stop. Talk us through all that?

Rubens Barrichello. Well, I told Ross one lap before I went off that it was actually spitting down a bit, and when I saw Michael going off I was too close to him. My car was handling quite well at that time, and then out of Turn 5 I saw him going straight. I had no time to do anything. If I had spun at that time I would have collected Michael right in the middle, so I was lucky to recover and get going. It was actually a pity that I couldn't go to my pit at that time. We took the decision to stay on the track, and all of a sudden I think I spun three or four times again. There was a lot of water on the track, but we made a good choice on the tyres, but unfortunately the pit stop took so long. It was going quite well; all of a sudden I saw one of the mechanics putting a slick tyre on my right side; the engine was already too hot, everything was running hot. I saw Michael behind me, and I didn't know what to do. So basically I had to calm down and go again.

Q. At the end of the day Michael made one stop and you made two. Was that always the plan? (That's petrol stops.)

RB. I tell you, Michael is a hell of a driver, but I wish I could have a little bit of his luck as well! I think when he went off he didn't collect as much stones as I did, so I had to stop once more to clean everything, basically, so at the end of the day he got it.

Q. I think, during the course of the race, you lost both of your barge boards. How did your car handle with those items missing?

RB. I think we have a good car, a fantastic car actually, the best car I have ever driven, like I have said. Once I came on the radio to say that I saw some bits of the car flying, and that's basically was some of the barge boards and maybe the brake duct or something. I ran off the track three or four times, so the cars are very robust, but they're not off-road cars, so basically that's the story.

Q. David, you started eighth, but at the end of the Safety Car period you were first. Was that great driving or good luck?

David Coulthard. I wish I could say it was great driving, but of course it takes a lot of luck in those circumstances and when I saw both the Ferraris going off that gave Trulli, who was running in front of me, a bit of a warning, and it gave me some warning. We stayed on the track, and obviously it was quite clear we would have to come in, even though it was only half wet on the track and the other half of the circuit was completely dry. Coming into the last corner both Jarno and myself spun, but I managed to keep it going and come into the pits. At that time we thought it was the right decision to go for full wets, and clearly with that amount of water it was, but as the Safety Car then came out, you can be sure that you're not going to start driving again with so much water on the track. So in hindsight intermediates would have been a better tyre, because we had to run the wets a long time and I was losing a lot of time obviously to the Ferraris when I was waiting for the slicks.

Q. Again the two of you, Mika and yourself, made a different fuel stop strategy, two stops during the race and one for yourself. Was that always planned?

DC. We were flexible on the circuit, especially where I qualified, and certainly for Mika as well. You have to try and leave an element of flexibility there because we knew the weather was a little bit dodgy, so it was 50-50 whether we would have a wet race.

Q. Michael, in the last couple of weeks you've amassed six consecutive wins, which is a modern-day record, you've gone to 33 poles, which is second all-time, you know how have the most fastest laps of any driver and the most kilometres led. Is that important to you?

MS. It's nice to listen to what you said, yes, but honestly, at the end of the day it doesn't count as much as how many races you win or how many championships you win. On the other side, it depends as well how you win it. I'm obviously more keen on the results we achieve because we have worked very hard to achieve them and that is what counts to me.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q. First of all, you changed cars before the start, Michael. What was all that about?

MS. We saw a little bit of oil in the back part of the car. We didn't know whether it was serious or not, but as a precaution we just jumped in the other car.

Q. You didn't seem very happy about it?

MS. In the morning I ran the T-car and preferred the T-car, so Ross said, now you race the car you wanted to drive, so actually it wasn't a problem.

Q. To what extent did you alter the car during the race for the conditions?

MS. Good question - I lost track of what we did! I don't know: we have a clear situation, what we do in the moment we put different tyres on, and I guess they have done, but in the heat of the action I didn't actually check what was done.

Q. But it was pretty much suited for the conditions at the time?

MS. Not properly, honestly. I did come on the radio and asked whether they did the changes they were supposed to do, because the handling didn't seem to be as good as I wanted to have, but the longer it went into the race the better it got.

Q. You didn't seem to enjoy sitting behind Rubens' car much when he was stationary in the pits. I can imagine why you didn't...

MS. No, there was a misunderstanding about it, because I thought his engine was off, and I saw the guys not sure should they restart it or not. I was only trying to say, then please push the car forward because you can restart it as well in a different position and in the meantime they can change my tyres. But what I didn't see, the front right tyre wasn't changed by that time, so that was the reason I said, come on, do something, but I didn't have the full picture.

Q. It was amazing, because you must have lost about a minute there and yet you still came charging through, which is phenomenal.

MS. We were lucky, honestly, that we didn't get lapped by the Safety Car. The conditions were really atrocious, undriveable, I'd say, and in this respect we were really lucky that we didn't get lapped and we could join again the back of the Safety Car. But for a while I was thinking the Safety Car would go faster than we could do, actually, because we had to go so slow in certain parts of the circuit and it was really a struggle.

Q. What about when you overtook Rubens - how did that happen?

MS. I got a good drive out of Turn 8 - he had a bit of a moment there, so obviously he didn't leave me the inside so I took the outside; and then I was not able to go on the throttle so early, but we were still side by side and the next corner was my corner and Rubens obviously backed off, being careful not to let anything happen. But honestly I think it was anyway my line, so that's the moment I got him. I was faster due to traffic as well and I didn't want to lose too much time because I didn't know what tyres David had on at that stage, so I really wanted to get through the traffic and charge the front.

Q. After a race like today, when you've been so much quicker, you've lost a minute in the pits, and yet you still come out 20-30 seconds ahead...

MS. Yeah, but the minute we lost we took back by the Safety Car. Finally you can only count the seconds I was behind, maybe, the first car after the green flag, and I was probably only 10 seconds, so that was part of it. And then the reason we were going so well is we took the right choice of tyre, set-up and everything and we just went right through the field, like we did many other times.

Q. But this time seemed to be much more dominant. Isn't it a big surprise?

MS. I remember Barcelona '96, it was probably the same story, but honestly it's great being somehow dominant, but we know that won't be the case for every coming race now. It was special conditions, special circumstances, and we used them well for us.

Q. Rubens, three stops, but were there adjustments being made to your car as well?

RB. Not really. The adjustments were the same with Michael when we see rain and dry. But bits and pieces were flying off my car, really, that's the adjustment. I had to adapt my driving to the car I had.

Q. You saw the bits coming off when you went off, did you?

RB. No, never when I went off. I saw once when I came behind a Minardi in the middle of Turn 3, you know, that fast turn, and because of the turbulence I saw something flying. So obviously I think it was due to the fact that I was running on the grass so much that it got loose.

Q. Then when you both went off that time, that must have been extraordinary?

RB. I must admit, must be honest with you, I thought Michael was already into the wall, because I made it for just a small bit. I couldn't slow the car down and I couldn't afford to spin, otherwise I would have collected him - we were very close at that time and I was really lucky to stay on. Two laps later I was already really lucky again not to have collected Coulthard and Trulli in front of me, because at that time you have no drive: it's like as if the wheels are not turning, the water comes underneath the car and you have no way to do anything. The cars were spinning, spinning, spinning: all of a sudden I saw that I could still put the power down, I was maybe in fifth gear, I never changed gear, and I just went through the gravel again, came into the pits. We had a disastrous pit stop then off we went again.

Q. And the overtaking manoeuvre when Michael came past you?

RB. That's something that was a bit sad, to be honest with you, because I told Ross that I would take very much care because there were some bits on the track that were really, really wet. I wanted to make time as well, and I was making time, but basically I came too close to the car in front, which I think was a Jordan, I lost a bit of momentum there and he took the chance. At that time I would say a teammate would just stay composed and would wait for some chances in front, but that's how it went. At the end of the day I would have had to stop once more anyway, so I don't think I would have won the race. But it can happen.

Q. David, I know from what we said before the race, a few points and you'd be happy. You ended up on the rostrum - a bit of a surprise?

David Coulthard. In a normal race I would have been very surprised, but I think in these circumstances anything can happen, and clearly I benefited from what happened just before the Safety Car. (Sorry, I'm distracted by the conversation going on beside me.)

Q. Then the start, eighth to fourth?

DC. Yes, it was good.

Q. Bit of a surprise there as well?

DC. Anything can happen at the start, you can go eighth to 12th. But someone said to me that you could bet money that a certain driver would spin at the first corner, so they were spot-on. You just had to position yourself on the inside and try and keep out of trouble.

Q. Your feelings about Ferrari, the way they just seemed to disappear today: how do you feel about that?

DC. Well, I don't share the surprise that you were showing earlier, that they were able to be so quick in the race, because the Williams aside in qualifying, they were a second quicker than we were in qualifying and obviously the Williams was out of the battle from very early on. They clearly have a car advantage at this time, very similar to the sort of advantage we probably had in '98, and that allows you, if you make the right calls, to really drive at the pace you want to relative to others. So it's quite clear to everyone that they're the class of the field at the moment and we have a lot of work to do to catch up.

Q. Would you just go over your feelings about the tyres again, because you said how you were on full wets rather than the intermediates?

DC. At that time, when I said, okay, I'm coming in this lap, and it was quite clear from the Ferrari spinning as well that things were getting difficult, what made it quite tricky a few laps before that was it was raining on half the circuit but dry on the other half. So if you came in and put wets on they would just burn out completely, and you would have to stay out until the point where the slicks became undriveable. Obviously I had a spin and then came down the pit lane, and at that time it looked torrential, and we hadn't seen the Safety Car come out at that point. So it's quite clear with the knowledge of the Safety Car you don't have to run the maximum pace and you know that it won't peel off until the track's safe. So, had I known that, then I would have gone for intermediates. But I didn't know that, all I knew was I'd just had a spin, I was coming in, and I needed wet tyres and that's what I got.

Q. You were fairly close to Rubens in the closing stages, at one point less than five seconds. Did you not have enough left to go for him in the closing stages?

DC. I never really thought I was racing Rubens, to be honest, because I felt he had enough of a car advantage round this track that if I was catching him, unless he had a particular problem, it must be that he was taking it easy towards the end, and once it got to about eight laps from the finish I wanted to be 100% sure that I could keep my third place. So I started to short-shift quite a lot to protect the engine and just be very careful. So I think, as I mentioned to you before, I thought if I could get a fifth place I would be very happy, so I wasn't going to chuck away a third place dreaming of seconds.

Questions from the floor

Q. Michael, can you just talk us through when you went off? Do you think there was oil down there as well?

MS. No, it was just water, because really heavy spots of rain were around the circuit. I saw the little bit of drizzle in Turn 4 and I thought, okay, if it like this, no worries. But then it must have been a lot harder in that area and it caught me by surprise.

Q. And Rubens, can you talk us through that incident with Ralf in the first corner?

RB. Well, I made a good start, to be honest with you: I lost probably half a car to Michael, maybe one car to Michael, but I had no vision on my left side that Ralf was there, and I kept on looking to see if somebody was there. When he came out of the outside, he was quite brave to brake so late, but then he just tried to be brave and turn in. When you're there, you know that the track is difficult to overtake, you know the situation is going to be, you have to fight for your own position. I thought, you know, you can fight for the position, you can brake very late, but you leave the other room. It's the same case as happened with Frentzen back in Melbourne. With Coulthard it always happens, if he comes on the outside or the inside, he leaves some room for you to actually have a line or something. I had no room - I had to brake late as well when I saw him coming down the outside, I had to just let the car roll and then I had the line - not the line, he was in front, I have to admit that he was in front, but then all of a sudden he just shut the door and I was there. So if you want to fight for the position that's cool, but just leave some room.

Q. Did you touch?

RB. Oh yeah, we touched - not to the point where, for example in Melbourne, my car was hurt. This time my car was fine with that little incident, where we touched slowly. Because he came in at such a momentum that's why he touched me and he just kept on spinning, you could see the engine just rising, and then he spun.

Q. Michael, the Safety Car was out for five laps. You say it was undriveable just after that little monsoon, but do you think it has to be out for five laps until it was almost dry?

MS. I don't know what was the reason he was out so long, so maybe the Race Director, cars had to be pulled away - I don't know. The conditions: you could have let the Safety Car go a little bit earlier, but honestly, from inside it's one thing, but I guess to decide from outside it's rather more difficult and you play safe rather than be dangerous, and one or two laps more or less wouldn't have changed the situation a lot, honestly.

Q. Michael, did Ross or the people on the wall there tell you about what Rubens told them just before you overtake. He just said to take it easy because there was a lot of things on the track and so on?

MS. I don't think it's really a point. The situation is, as Rubens said, he had a moment behind another car out of Turn 8 and I got so much more speed into Turn 9 it was very easy to overtake there. So there's no reason not to go for it. In the end of the day we're teammates, we respect each other, we leave each other room not to hurt each other, but I was on a better go and as you have seen afterwards I was faster as well so I didn't want to lose too much time.

Q. We saw you were faster, but I'm thinking about the surprise of Rubens after saying to the team people, look, we're going to be careful and then you went through. There could have been an accident?

MS. No, I don't think it's to the point of an accident. He can see in the mirrors as well, and you see what's going on. We are in equal situations so you fight for the position. I don't think that's unreasonable.

Q. Michael, was it as enjoyable as in Benetton days in Spa, going through the field?

MS. I have many circumstances where we had these conditions: Monte Carlo, Nurburgring, Spa and I don't know where else. It's always tricky; I can't say it's really enjoyable, because when you're out there with so much rain and you're on slick tyres it's rather dangerous and I don't really like it, although I may do well. It's so easy to do mistakes: I did a mistake today and I was lucky it didn't really hurt me. So the point is that once the conditions are more clear as after the Safety Car, then it's okay because it's safe; but until that point it was really kind of dangerous and I'm not really a friend of that.

Q. David, a pretty grim day for McLaren. You told us quite a lot of things yesterday about what's wrong with the car, but how serious is the situation? Today Mika had to fight hard to try and get past an Arrows for the last part of the race and at times Michael was lapping up to five seconds a lap faster than anyone else even with a full load of fuel. Just what do you need to do and how soon do you think you can get it fixed?

DC. I think the time difference, the five seconds a lap, you're not comparing like for like. Irrespective of the fuel level, as you saw this morning there was more than five seconds' difference between the wet tyres and the intermediate tyres in the right conditions. So if you want to just home in on that one area then all of us may go home. We may as well stop now. But we know that it's not five seconds' difference between Ferrari and the rest of us. I think, as you saw in Melbourne, it was maybe just less than half a second; here, to us, it was almost a full second, and we know we're not running the car at its full potential. This is probably more a question for the technical people, but we can run it at its full potential because we haven't a good enough job to balance it and that's what we need to work on. In reality it's probably not going to be until we get back to Europe before we will be able to address that properly. So I really don't think we're seeing the full potential of the car, but equally I think we're seeing a very good Ferrari against a not-quite-sorted-out McLaren at the moment. I think, as Michael mentioned earlier, he also is very quick in certain conditions; if you study your lap charts you'll see there's very little difference in straight-line speeds between any of the cars now, so the days of just drifting by on the straight line are gone. So the only way you see big situations of people overtaking is when you have wet conditions and you get a variation of lines coming off the corner. But it's pretty grim!

Q. Michael, you said the decision for intermediates was yours. Did that include a fairly long discussion with the pits or did you just say intermediates and that was that?

MS. Yes.

Q. Rubens, can I clarify one point? Did you go off purely to avoid Michael, or did you actually spin on your own? Would you have gone off anyway?

RB. I spun as well, because there are certain times that, if you overdrive, you can have something like that. It's not a question actually of overdriving, but of course I didn't want to lose any time to Michael. I lost a little bit on the first lap due to the fact that I got a little wide in the other corner, in Turn 12, then I thought I recuperated the time a little bit on lap 2. Things were looking quite good, the car was fine, but when it started spitting I said, should I back off or just follow Michael and if something happens to him I have the chance to back off? But then it was too late. In fact I think, trying to think ahead, I think if I had lost the back of the car I would hit him, made me keep not downshifting, no hard turning, and then I kept going straight and I was lucky that I had a bit more of a turn-in than him. At the end of the day we were both lucky that I didn't spin.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Minardi , Jordan