Monaco GP: Saturday press conference

1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m15.259s 2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1m15.295s (+ 0.036s) 3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m15.415s (+ 0.156s) Q: Ralf, tell us about Monaco under these new qualifying regulations? Ralf Schumacher:...

1. Ralf SCHUMACHER (WILLIAMS), 1m15.259s
2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLAREN), 1m15.295s (+ 0.036s)
3. Juan Pablo MONTOYA (WILLIAMS), 1m15.415s (+ 0.156s)

Q: Ralf, tell us about Monaco under these new qualifying regulations?

Ralf Schumacher: Especially, here, as you saw with Kimi on Thursday, it's very easy to make a mistake and just be at the back. It's a great achievement given all the problems and pressure we've had from the outside for the team; it's a great result, definitely.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the changes you made to the cars overnight since Thursday?

RS: Obviously I can't, but there was a lot going on, good new ideas. The team, since the beginning of the year, has changed a lot anyway and things go a lot better, although we still seem to have some difficulties on different circuits this year. But being here today is simply great.

Q: You were fastest on sector two, which I think includes the swimming pool section...

RS: I had some difficulties there last year so that's why I concentrated a little bit more on that sector.

Q: What words did you exchange with your brother at the weigh-in afterwards?

RS: I just asked him what the problem was and it simply looks to me as if (it is) the Michelins -- but we know that the Michelin is better anyway -- but he told me it was definitely today.

Q: It is much closer today than it was between Michelin and Bridgestone on Thursday - how do you account for that?

RS: Well, the Bridgestone seems to be a tyre that has a good performance under slippery circumstances when there is a bit of dust and the circuit is not too hot. But as soon as there is rubber on the track we seem to have the upper hand, which is good.

Q: Kimi, you obviously qualified sooner than these other guys here. How much of a disadvantage was that?

Kimi Raikkonen: Of course, the circuit always gets a bit better but I wouldn't say that it's a massive difference. But if you get to chose when to start then it's as late as possible.

Q: It was very close wasn't it? If you just change the last two numerals of your lap time around you could be on the pole...

KR: Ah yeah. It's the same situation as it was last race, now it's just a different car but what can I do? I did my best but it wasn't enough. I think the front row is a really good starting place and I think the start could make a big difference in the race. If you get the first place at the start it's a big bonus but we will see what happens tomorrow.

Q: You seemed to struggle a little bit at Monaco last year - you qualified sixth and you had a shunt on Thursday. Do you feel much more comfortable at this circuit this year?

KR: Yeah, and last year was pretty much... I think I shunted every day at least once. If you have an accident, it's going to cost you so much time so that the set-up is really bad. This year I've taken it a bit easier, I've got more experience and I think that experience makes a big difference in the end. The first qualifying wasn't very good but I wasn't really too worried about that because I knew what was wrong and we changed the car a lot and from this morning we improved the car a lot and it was good in qualifying.

Q: Juan Pablo, how was it for you?

Juan Pablo Montoya: I think we had a good balance. I think we had a little bit too much bottoming but it's okay. I think we've got a good race car and that's the most important thing. I think we're in a good position. I think it's very important for the team, the way it's moved forward, and last week in testing we did a lot of steps forward. I think the team is understanding the car a lot better and that really helps.

Q: You seem to have been very quick on sector three - does that mean anything?

JPM: Not really. This morning I was very strong in sector one and I probably lost most of my time from where I could have done this morning in sector one, probably. Sector three was a surprise, that I was quickest at the time.

Q: It's the first time that the team has gone so well in qualifying. Is the feeling within Williams BMW that you could potentially be on the front row here?

JPM: You never know here, especially with the new rules, with fuel, you don't know who's doing what. But we seem to have a very consistent car and I think it's going to be a close fight with McLaren tomorrow.

Q: Ralf, there are some circuit changes at Monaco this year. Can you tell us about those?

RS: As many of you know, I was always critical about this circuit but they've done a great job. Anyway, the marshalling is the best in the world, I would say -- well, it has to be in this place. But the changes that they've made here have made it far more enjoyable to drive as well as safer.

Q: Can you go into those changes? Are you talking about the track surface as much as the...

RS: The track surface obviously, but also the re-cornering in the swimming pool area. The only thing that I think that they also have to do is resurface the other part of the track. It would great if they could find the money for that.

Q: A great lap time, very fast. Is that indicative of those circuit changes as much as it is the improvement in the cars?

RS: It is. The circuit is a lot quicker and gives you more confidence to push even more through the swimming pool area.

Q: Given your problems in qualifying so far this year, and your love affair with Monaco, do you like it a bit more now, Ralf?

RS: It's a great place to drive, that's for sure, but only if the car is good anyway. If it's not, and you have balance problems, then you're in deep problems here. But I've always complained a bit about the safety side, nothing else. Driving here is great.

Q: Were you a bit alarmed at that time by McLaren this morning?

RS: Oh yes, I was very much surprised. I obviously knew that Kimi didn't have a good qualifying on Thursday, but looking at the times this morning we didn't think we would be that strong to be honest. But we made quite a few changes in the morning and then just gradually built up to it.

Q: How much of a margin do you leave around here?

RS: It's a difficult decision to take since we've had this one lap qualifying. You can't really leave a lot of margin, and that's why I spun in Austria and you do the same here.

Q: What about the start tomorrow? Last year David Coulthard out-accelerated Juan Pablo off the line. What do you reckon?

RS: Well, the two cars do have a good starting history. Let's wait and see what happens. It will be exciting into the first corner, I guess. I hope all of us come around without any stupid mistakes or accidents and go into the race from there.

Q: Kimi, what sort of margin have you been leaving around here? You went fairly early in qualifying as well...

KR: Yeah, but I think it's more important here to go as quick as possible because one place can make a big difference in the race. Okay, you want to keep the car out of the walls and try to do a good lap. So I got quite a good lap, not quick enough for pole but I'm quite happy with that.

Q: Remembering what David did from second on the grid last year, does that give you hope?

KR: Yeah, but it's a different year and everything is different, but you never know. It all depends on how the launch control works and if it's good, as we hope, then maybe we can get the first place. But like Ralf said, we will see tomorrow.

Q: There's a new pit lane this year. How much does that enter into the strategy of things?

KR: I don't think it makes very much difference. I think it's much safer as it is now, because last year you just came and there would easily have been some accidents and now it's much, much better.

Q: Did you think you had pole position after you set the time?

KR: I hoped but it was pretty much the same situation as it was at the last race and maybe next time?

Q: Juan, is it going to be an advantage starting behind Ralf?

JPM: Erm...why?

Q: Just with the two of you on that side of the grid...

JPM: Well, no. When Michael went out I said to my engineer it would be good in a way if Michael was ahead of us because basically last year the left-hand side was a lot quicker. I was a bit surprised at Michael being so slow.

Q: Have you been surprised by Ferrari in that they were quickest in the first sector and then relatively slow in the others?

JPM: The first sector is three corners - it is really nothing. Where you really can make the time is in the second sector, that is where you can make a big difference. The first sector and last sector is very little time and if you do a good second sector you will be pretty competitive.

Q: Now Michelin were first to fourth in that session. How important do you think that was to the three of you up there?

JPM: Well, it seemed that Bridgestone had pretty soft tyres for the first day and a harder tyre for the race and in a way it is good for us that they couldn't run the soft tyre, I would imagine.

Q: You were on pole last year, so third this year. Happy?

JPM: In a way I am amazed. I thought I was going to be P6 or P7. In the morning the car felt a lot better than it did in qualifying and I am certain I have got a good car for the race and it will be a matter of time to see what happens.

Q: The temperature went up quite sharply in the 15 minutes before the start of qualifying. Did that make a big difference?

JPM: Not really. I think the level of grip on the car was good. The second sector was not as good as it could have been and that was it.

Q: Can all the three drivers give some comments on the swimming pool area and the entrance to La Rascasse?

JPM: The entrance of the swimming pool is the same. The Rascasse is a bit different, it is safer...no, probably not safer, just cheaper for the teams!

RS: Well, yeah, it is a big effort for them to change the circuit like that and it is good because it was always easy to make a stupid mistake into Rascasse and that was it, end of story, and as Juan Pablo said it was very expensive at the same time as annoying. It is a good change and the swimming pool area was bumpy in some areas and the new tarmac seems to be good.

Q: What did you think when your brother Michael was out on track?

RS: I was surprised. When I saw the first sector I said 'whoops, it's going to be tight' but then he made a slight mistake into the corner that was called Loews corner, I don't know what it is called now, and I was very surprised that even in the second sector he seemed to lose somewhere else as well. It is great for us, certainly, but we expected him to out qualify us.

Q: Kimi, McLaren have said this car is not a qualifying car. How do you judge it in comparison to the others?

KR: I think it is still not a qualifying car, like they said, but it seems to be working well this year and it has always been better with more fuel in the car than how it was last year when we were qualifying on low fuel for one lap. We never really got the best out of it like the other teams and it is a bit the same situation now when we are running on the Fridays, or here Thursday, that we are a bit far away from the others but we know that and that is why we don't worry so much and once we and all the other guys put fuel in the car it seems to be going well.

Q: Because of the exit of the pit lane, Sainte Devote has changed a little with the new kerb now. Do you think it could influence the start tomorrow?

RS: Well, Charlie (Whiting) will watch it pretty carefully anyway and whoever cuts it and gains a position will be reported to the stewards and get a drive-through penalty so I think it is in nobody's interests to gain anything but at least there is a bit more space in case we need it. I think it is not a bad idea.

Q: We have eight Michelin cars in the top ten positions. Do you think if the weather is going to be the same tomorrow this is an indicator for the race?

KR: I hope so, but I don't know. I think the Michelin seems to be working a bit better in these hot conditions so hopefully it will be even hotter and we will have a bigger advantage.

RS: The conditions seemed to work for us. We did a lot of testing in the last two tests to be prepared for this race and they have done a great job. Last year we struggled a bit after our long runs and so I am pretty sure after what I have seen today and this morning that we are pretty well prepared, we made a good tyre choice and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: Kimi, it is your third time here. Do you think just from a driving point of view that you have something to learn from this track and how do you like it?

KR: Yeah, I like the circuit but it is very difficult and the experience here makes it a much bigger difference than other places and really this morning I started to find a bit better lines around the circuit and we got the set-up working quite well and every year you will feel a bit better, more confident and quicker, but it is not too bad now and hopefully it is much better this year.

Q: Now you have a very good opportunity to keep Michael behind you in the world championship. Are you going to take risks to win the race or are you going to go cautiously to get some good points.

KR: We will try to win the race but we will see how it will go in the race and if you see that there is no chance to win then you need to take whatever is available. So I will take the best shot that I can to try to win it but so will all the other drivers so we will see.

Q: Kimi, both Rubens and Michael lost a lot of time in the last sector and that would suggest that they have problems with the tyres. But they are going to use the same tyre tomorrow that they did today and they are at the back of the grid. Do you think it is an advantage for you?

KR: Yes, for sure it is going to help us but we don't know how well they are doing on the longer runs and from what I have seen on my car when we did longer runs it seems to be very good and I am quite confident that we will be quite good tomorrow and hopefully we can have a bigger advantage in the points after this race.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams