Monaco GP Saturday press conference

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1:19.475s 2. Jarno TRULLI (JORDAN MUGEN-HONDA), 1:19.746s 3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN-MERCEDES), 1:19.888s Q. Congratulations, gentlemen, on your success today. Michael, you went faster on each of your first...

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1:19.475s
2. Jarno TRULLI (JORDAN MUGEN-HONDA), 1:19.746s
3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN-MERCEDES), 1:19.888s

Q. Congratulations, gentlemen, on your success today. Michael, you went faster on each of your first three runs and then eased off on the fourth. With your rival Mika Hakkinen back in 5th place, would you describe this as the perfect qualifying result?

Michael Schumacher: I suppose I have to say Yes, with Jarno being next to me [on the front row] and Mika being 5th, it makes a good start to the race for us tomorrow. Even so, it will remain a tough, long race. We just need to go for a good start and then I [may] have my competitors right with me again. I could have hoped for a couple more guys between them and me, but that is just a dream. So let's think about the reality, which is that we will see a very tough race tomorrow.

Q. Watching on TV, it looked on a couple of occasions as though you were very close to the barriers. Did you hit them?

MS: I thought they needed repainting, so ... we did a bit of a job over that. I didn't know, actually, it was David who told me [how close I had got]. I knew I was very close, twice, on the first run, once out of the swimming pool and once at Portier, when the car wasn't perfectly balanced. But you have no time to watch how close it is in the mirrors, so I might have just kissed it. It can't have been a hard impact, though, because I didn't feel anything.

Q. Congratulations, Jarno, on your best ever qualifying position in F1. Are you surprised to be here?

Jarno Trulli: A little bit, yes. I didn't expect to do so well in qualifying here because I have had so many problems over the weekend, especially losing the first session [on Thursday] when I had a problem with the front suspension. I had to change the suspension completely, and that changed the balance. So I was struggling. But if you look at [the times from] free practice you will see that I was improving step by step, although only slowly because I was coming from such a long way back. But yesterday and this morning we worked very well and started to get close to the best drivers. I was expecting to be in the top six, but the car is honestly very good. I want to say a big 'thank you' to the guys who have been working with me, because they did an excellent job.

Q. How difficult was the traffic today?

JT: I lost two laps because of the traffic, which meant that I could only use two sets of new tyres. Then I found a McLaren on my last run, which had started with a good [time, especially through the] first sector. But I couldn't complete it, which made me a bit upset when I came in. Anyway, it is very good for me, and the team, to be on the first row. I am now getting better and better. I feel more confident with the car and with the team, which makes me feel confident for the race tomorrow.

Q. David, you have looked good all weekend and yesterday you had the fastest overall time. How much did the track conditions change this afternoon?

David Coulthard: I didn't actually feel any great improvement in the track. [The improvement in lap time comes from] being able to do more running with the car and finding where the track conditions are when you get an increase in temperature, like we did this morning. So it was just a case of finding a clear lap, finding your limit and adjusting the car to suit.

Q. I believe McLaren is one of the few teams to have selected the harder Bridgestone tyre for tomorrow, and here you are in 3rd place while Mika is only 6th. Was it too big a sacrifice of qualifying pace in favour of potentially better performance in the race?

DC: The race is still the most important [consideration] because that's when you win points, so it remains to be see whether we are able to make up some places. We made our decision on the basis of finding the best package. Time will tell whether it was a good decision or not.

Q. Michael, yesterday at Fiorano you were testing starts. Did you learn anything new?

MS: Mmmm, no. You have no chance to practise starts down here, so it is just an opportunity to settle in and get used to things. We haven't tested anything new over the last couple of starts. Through the year we have made fairly consistent starts - except at Imola - and I believe we are on top of most of it.

Q. Michael, this is your 25th pole position in F1. Was it pretty much perfect?

MS: I had a bit of a good lap, yes. I think [another] tenth [of a second faster] was possible, but it was obviously good enough.

Q. I believe the track changes all weekend. Do you try and run with the track or anticipate how it is going to end up?

MS: It's very difficult. You know certain improvements in the circuit, but then you have to [follow] pretty much to your experience through the runs and adapt the car to that. Then when you go out again you see how much faster you can go. But you can never be perfectly sure how much you may have improved and whether it is due to a setup change or a change in conditions. We got very good runs all weekend, apart from two, and we made enough improvement to know that we were getting better.

Q. For the race, are you worried about that understeer you mentioned?

MS: I ... hope not. It may still be there, yes, but overtaking at Monaco is another story. If we make a good start, things should be OK.

Q. Jarno, you mentioned the difficulties you had with handling at the beginning of the weekend. It seems to have come right now ...

JT: It started out really badly when we discovered that we could not use the new front suspension. On this track you need maximum steering angle, and the wheel was touching inside, so we had to go back to the previous suspension. Unfortunately for me the settings were completely wrong, so step by step, together with my engineer and my mechanics, we had to work really hard. We didn't look very strong on Thursday, so we worked hard last night, examining the data. But even so I still didn't feel really confident in the car and I couldn't play with it. Then, although I didn't expect to do too well, for qualifying the car was pretty good. I had two runs aborted because of traffic, though, so I could maybe have gone even quicker. Now I must say I am really happy, although a bit surprised.

Q. Did your confidence build during qualifying?

JT: Yes, that's right. This morning, even though I was in the top six, I was never really happy. Even in qualifying, although I felt that I could play much more with the car, I didn't have the 100 per cent confidence in it that I am used to having. So I feel I could have gone even quicker if I hadn't lost that first session on Thursday. But having said that, to be 2nd is very good for me and the team. I want to say Thank You to everyone involved.

Q. Did you use a qualifying engine?

JT: For several reasons we are getting better and better at Jordan, and one of the reasons is that Honda is pushing so hard to give us more development on the engine side. I have to say that the previous race tracks haven't been good for us. The latest Jordan car seems to be better suited to Nürburgring and street-type circuits like this one. Now we are waiting for some aerodynamic developments. Everything looks really good for the future.

Q. After some quick times in earlier sessions of practice, is it disappointing to be in third place today?

DC: Yes. I have been feeling really strong in the car ever since my first run on Thursday. Today I may have been just a little too cautious at the beginning of the session, as I made sure that I recorded a 'banker' lap [at a time when] everyone else was leapfrogging ahead. Then, as we played with the car, it felt stronger at each fresh run. On the third run, however, there was a waved yellow [flag] going up the hill to Casino Square and I lifted off - even though I still haven't seen a [slow or stationary] car off the road there. Then on my last lap there was a car off the road at the swimming pool, which forced me to lift. I had to try to judge it to go a little slower [than before], to avoid losing the [whole] lap, and in fact I went quicker through the last couple of corners. That lap was one tenth quicker than any other, but I felt there was the potential to have gone even quicker.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams McLaren , Jordan