1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:35:54.235 (194.199 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +0.732 3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), +18.444 Q. Congratulations, Michael, on helping Ferrari to retain the constructors' championship. This is...
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on helping Ferrari to retain the constructors' championship. This is also your ninth win of the season, equalling Nigel Mansell's 1992 record.
Michael Schumacher: We wanted to win this race and we did it. It was a very tough race, too, very tight, [because] DC really pushed from the first lap to the last. So did I, and that meant a flat- out race which was very tough physically and car- wise. We did it! We on the Constructors' championship after all, not just by taking [the] three points [we needed] but by wining and being third. That is exactly the result the team deserves, in my view.
Q. You must have been rather surprised to find both McLarens in front of you at the end of the first lap. Did you know that Mika Hakkinen had been given a jumped start penalty?
MS: No. I can't look in the mirror at that moment [when the lights go out], and because he's eight metres behind me, or whatever, it was impossible for me to see, like I was able to do when David had the same situation at Indy. I could not judge that, because I am concentrated on the light and on what you are doing. Then you have to watch the other guys, to see what they are doing. I didn't have a very good start, though, because I was suffering to get away well enough. There was a lot of wheelspin before I got going well. Anyway, we went down to third after DC outbraked me on the outside. Then we just had to watch what the strategy could do for us.
Q. You set your personal fastest lap at the end of the first of your three stints and you never went as fast again in the following two. Is that was because you were controlling the race or because the car's performance went off slightly?
MS: No. It may have been the tyres. [That's] because they get better as they get older and I did more laps on the first set than on any of the others, so that could be factor. Plus, in the last stint I saw the gap, and I judged it. You don't go for 100 per cent because you don't want to make the mistake you can make when the driving is all at 100 per cent. You take it easy and go that little bit slower, which means the lap times are a little bit [longer].
Q. David, you were so near yet so far. You were pushing hard all the time, and also running a very different strategy from the one adopted for your team mate. How did the team come up with that?
David Coulthard: Well, we didn't plan on stopping anywhere near as early as lap 18, but unfortunately when I ran off the circuit coming off Turn 6 I filled the left hand side of the car with grass and the temperatures were going up for five laps. They then stabilised, but the team felt it would be better to take the gamble of losing time [with an early stop], which would guarantee the engine would make it to the end. It's disappointing, because [without that incident the fight with Michael] would have been closer. But that's the way the race worked out. I should have kept the car on the circuit.
Q. At the end of the race you were having a close conversation with Michael. What did you have to tell him?
DC: To be honest I was just apologising to Michael for the year. As you know we have had some differences and I am embarrassed that sometimes I said things too publicly instead of going to see him and to talk face to face. At the end of the season I wanted to apologise to him for that and to say he is a great champion and that I look forward to competing with him again next season.
Q. Michael, tell us about the satisfaction principally in this race from the Constructors' championship point of view.
MS: Yes. Naturally it's great, not only taking the necessary three points, but it is also ideal because it means we can go into a very nice winter holiday. That's something which everybody on the team deserves. They just worked flat out through the year and delivered a perfect car, to me and to Rubens. It was simply superb.
Q. What were your feelings in the early laps when you could see David gradually pulling away from you?
MS: I was obviously concerned, but there was nothing I could do. I was on the limit, I was pushing ... but I couldn't go any faster. I was hoping, as he did, that he would come in early. Even if he did so, I didn't know how long he could have stayed out if he hadn't made that slightly early pit stop. But overall you have to say that he was slightly faster than we were. Through strategy, though, we caught them. We took a big enough lead, early enough and for long enough, that there was nothing for them to do [about it]. We just drove it home safely.
Q. You were probably expecting him to make an early first stop, but not for the reasons that he has subsequently explained ...
MS: [That's right]. I was hoping that he would have to come in early, because that would have explained why he was lighter and therefore able to pull away. I don't know how much fuel he had at that stage, or how long he could have gone on or how it would have worked out for them or not. Anyway, at the end of the day we won the race. That's all that counts.
Q. Was he putting you under much pressure at the end?
MS: Certainly. The whole race was flat out. There was no possibility of reducing the speed dramatically and having an easy drive. The last stint was obviously driven in such a way that I wasn't forced into a mistake and I was able to preserve my tyres for the final moment whenever an attack would have happened. That was enough just to keep him behind, because he would have had to go quite a bit faster to overtake me. I was thinking that the difference in speed wasn't that great.
Q. David, we didn't have any TV shots of the moment when you took the lead from Mika. Can you explain the sequence of events?
DC: Well he obviously knew he would have to stop because of the stop- and- go penalty, and he let me pass going into Turn 3. I didn't know when he would have to pay his penalty but I was naturally hoping he would be able to keep Michael back a little bit because I didn't know at what pace he would be able to run. But about five corners later the team told me that Michael was 2nd, so I just tried to pull away as best I could. I don't recall locking up, but I seem to have developed a vibration in the front of the car ... and I was slightly unsighted coming out of Turn 6. It's such a fast complex - in fact it's an excellent part that compares with any circuit that we race on, because it's so fast - but I slightly misjudged the exit and ran off the track. I didn't think it had been enough to do any damage, but it was because of the [moment on the grass there] that the team called me in early. I thought it was going to be terminal, because I knew it was not scheduled for us to stop anywhere near as early as that. I also knew that probably meant any chance of winning the race was gone.
Q. Is that the moment which wrecked your chances?
DC: Yes. You need to keep in front here, because there wasn't enough speed differential between the cars to be able to overtake without another driver [making that possible by] making a mistake. That was unlikely, so I needed track position And to stop so early was a significantly worse for the strategy.
Q. How hard were you pushing at the end?
DC: Enough to be close [to Michael]. But in reality, when you get into the dirty air [from a car just in front] it immediately makes it much more difficult to drive the car. So you have to be very careful: you're trying to stay close enough to make the leading driver be aware that you're there, but you're really hoping he'll make a mistake. That's unlikely to happen, so it was a case of accepting 2nd place.
Q. Rubens, it seems that you had a lively time at the first corner. Tell us about it ...
RB: Yes, it was. Just like Michael, I didn't have a very good getaway, so I had to put my cards on the first corner because there was Wurz and then Villeneuve who got a run on the outside of me. I was fortunate not to hit anybody because I drove into the corner really fast and I was able to get out of Turn 2 ahead of Villeneuve. It was pretty lively action there.
Q. After that you had a lonely race ...
RB: Well, it was [lonely], but in a way [I would say] that after Hockenheim this was one of the best showings for me this year because it was quite hot. I didn't feel at all well, and although I didn't feel anything bad during the race I was mentally worried that the hot air might get me at some point. In the end, though, the car was running fine ... and although Michael was pulling away and opening a gap of a couple of tenths a lap - sometimes even less - I was happy with the situation as it went. But then at the second pit stop I lost probably three or four seconds because getting it into first gear was quite tough. After that, I could keep the pace with Mika quite well and Ross [Brawn] told me to back off.
Q. So you class this race up as the second best after winning at Hockenheim?
RB: I would say so, yes. That was the first race where I could [match] Michael. Honestly, he was going flat from the very beginning to the very end. And our pleasure [in driving] comes from going flat out from the very beginning to the very end. This was a race like that. Yes, it was a lonely race, apart from the moment when I saw Michael overtake Mika. I saw my chances there, and I went for it - which was quite nice, too. After that it was a question of driving qualifying laps all through the race, until ten laps from the end, when Ross told me to back off. The car has been [on the pace] the whole time [this year]. I got much more points than ever before and I am pleased to have finished the season in a strong position. It means we can start the season in an equally strong position.
Q. David, without the early pit stop do you think you could have kept the lead?
DC: Without looking at the relative gaps, I don't know. It looks like it had levelled out a bit, and then I made the mistake. That meant I had to come in, and I lost almost a second on that lap. The gap at that time had been about five seconds. So to be able to say exactly, I would need to look at exactly what lap Michael stopped, and I would need to have to work out whether he stopped then in response to our early stop. I would also need to know what the fuel flow time was and guess what he would have done. Ultimately we still finished second ...