Monaco GP: Winners' press conference

1. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h45m39.055s 2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h45.40.104s (+ 1.050s) 3. Ralf SCHUMACHER(WILLIAMS BMW), 1h46m56.504s (+ 77.450s) Q: It's been just over a year since your last win, how do you feel? David COULTHARD:...


1. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h45m39.055s
2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h45.40.104s (+ 1.050s)
3. Ralf SCHUMACHER(WILLIAMS BMW), 1h46m56.504s (+ 77.450s)

Q: It's been just over a year since your last win, how do you feel?

David COULTHARD: It's unbelievable. I feel fantastic because naturally we've had a difficult start to the season. It was looking pretty difficult for us to win a Grand Prix and our hopes were pinned on coming to Monaco that we could have a good performance. Obviously that's been the case and the traction control which obviously caused me some problems last year worked fantastically this year and then it was just a question of keeping it off the barriers.

Q: Around lap 30 there was some smoke coming from the back of your car for several laps. Were you aware of that?

DC: I felt, for a few laps, as if things were tightening up a little bit, so obviously at that point... I could see some smoke as I was coming out of Casino and I thought this doesn't look good, but radioed to the team who said all the systems were working normally so I just ignored it and thankfully it didn't cause a problem.

Q: Michael you spent a lot of the race looking closely at the back of Juan Pablo Montoya's car. Do you think, had you managed to get past him, you would have left him behind?

Michael SCHUMACHER: I think I did. We did a pit stop and they did a pit stop, I'm not sure if he'd already done his pit stop or not but I think we were fast enough by far to stay in front after the pit stop. It was matter of David obviously, as he put up a decent gap Montoya and himself which... well, if the traffic we had during the first couple of laps after our pit stop we wouldn't have had this. It would have been very tight. But anyway, they did a great job and they really deserved this win today.

Q: But when you closed right up on David's car, did you think that there might be a moment when you could make a move or were you also aware, with Montoya retired, that if you finished in second you would have a 33 point advantage?

MS: I knew both and I kept on pushing because in Monaco, nothing is for certain and you really have to go until the last lap, last corner, and that's what I did. I was trying to get my opportunity but he drove a fine race and didn't give me any chance.

Q: Ralf, do you know what Juan Pablo's problem was and why he suddenly slowed and pulled to one side?

Ralf SCHUMACHER: Well it was definitely not a team order! That was not the case. I think he had a technical problem in the backside of his car. I don't know exactly what it was but he knew that he couldn't go as quick so he let me by.

Q: You had a problem with a tyre and had to make a second pit stop. Did that left rear tyre suddenly go wrong or was it something that was gradual?

RS: No it suddenly went flat. I will have to check with the team what it was but certainly I got, via radio, that there was something wrong with it. Luckily we had enough of a gap to pit again and to come out in front of Trulli again.

Q: David, you said coming to Monaco that, unlike the ones earlier this season, you felt you could be competitive; will that be true in Canada as well?

DC: Well, obviously Canada is a very different circuit and even when you think of last year, when we were quite competitive in the first half of the season, I think we were on the second row there, so it may be a different story in Montreal, but nonetheless, I think we are all going to enjoy this victory. It will be difficult to come back and especially this season, and I'm delighted that I was able to win this race for the McLaren team.

Q: David, it looks like it's been a hard afternoon's work, but very satisfying, I'm sure.

DC: Yeah, I think actually this is one of these races that it's once you stop, you realize how hot and hard it is but actually during the race, I must thank my trainer Andy Matthews, because I was feeling pretty good. OK, I didn't have to push 100 per cent but it was pretty much 99 percent the whole race and I still say that when I stepped out of the car there was a pool of water, sweat, so it was quite hard race, that's for sure.

Q: On that subject, you had your visor opened for some of the time, didn't you?

DC: I had my visor set like that the whole race to let some fresh air in. The benefit of not being behind any other cars is that you don't have to worry about debris. But obviously a lot of the races so far this year I've had to have it completely closed.

Q: Did you do anything special for the start?

DC: I just think that the software guys have worked extremely hard, and we've made some improvements since the beginning of the season. Obviously the first few races we were getting beaten off the start and that really made us concentrate because you do all the work in qualifying but then if you give away a place down at the first corner then it's very expensive. They've made some big steps forward and they were all confident, based on what happened in Austria, that I would lead into the first corner, just by looking into the analysis of the start from the Williams there, so all I had to do was take my finger off the button and hope they were right.

Q: It hasn't always been like that...

DC: Unfortunately not. It didn't work last year, so I guess this is payback for having to start at the back last year.

Q: After that, the pace was relentless, you were under pressure almost the whole way.

DC: Yeah, as you saw, during the first few laps I opened up a small gap then my tyres were graining, incredibly, and I thought I was going to really be in big trouble. I dropped, I think two or three seconds on some of the laps, and then once they cleaned up, they came back. And yes, as you say, I had to keep pushing and this is the sort of track where you can feel quite under control and then just one mistake can take you close to the barrier and thankfully I didn't make any mistakes really except at the chicane where you have a bit more room to do so, and I only touched one barrier during the race at the swimming pool, and otherwise it was a perfect race.

Q: How much of a panic was there about the smoke?

DC: I radioed to say that I thought I was losing a little bit of power and then after that I saw some of the smoke but the engineers told me that they couldn't see anything... or what they actually said was that there was no problem, so whether that means that they could see something but they felt it wasn't a problem... And then it seemed to clear up, so that was OK. There wasn't that much smoke when it was smoking.

Q: You mentioned traffic just now; how bad was that?

DC: I think I probably got the best of it. I definitely lost a little bit of time but judging by the gap to those behind me, it seemed to open up more in traffic. It's always going to be difficult here. Some of the guys chose to weave a bit longer before letting you past, but that's always going to be a feature of Monaco and I guess I would be complaining about a bit more if I'd finished second. I'm just enjoying the fact that we've won the Grand Prix because obviously so far this year it's looked pretty difficult and we felt that this was our best chance and everything's worked for us, so I'm just going to enjoy this moment.

Q: Michael. Was traffic worse for you?

MS: No. I thought the guys did a very good job today, staying out of the way. It was very good.

Q: What was the pace like early on when you were embroiled in it?

DC: It is typical Monaco when you know you are quite a bit faster but there is no way around it. You just have to be patient.

Q: Do you end up following the car in front or are you still taking you own lines?

MS: You do whatever is necessary. Sometimes you end up taking your own lines, sometimes you follow.

Q: You must get almost mesmerised lap after lap?

MS: Not really, because it was quite entertaining to watch Juan. He was clipping a few barriers, locking up, going sideways. He was overdriving a bit. It was actually sometimes I thought he would be close to that he is going to hit something and if I was staying too close it could be a problem, so he didn't, he kept his concentration together, but we were both not fast enough to keep up with David.

Q: How was the car today?

MS: Good. No problem.

Q: Were you told about David's smoke?

MS: I could see it. I told the team actually.

Q: What was your reaction. Did you think he was not going to be around long?

MS: Not necessarily. You have seen this in other circumstances. It doesn't necessarily mean it must go wrong, but obviously the possibility is there and you have to watch out for oil being on the circuit. It is never certain what is going to happen.

Q: Ralf. Third place here. I believe you said in German that you have a jinx about this place.

RS: I had actually never finished here in Formula One. The last time I finished here was in Formula Three, I think it was in 1994 or 1995, I don't know. So I am pretty happy to be here today.

Q: Was the car good?

RS: The car was reasonable. It was good to drive. Obviously not quick enough today, but obviously that was one of the most difficult for us here. We have improved. Compared to the last two years we are looking a lot better. We had an unexpected higher tyre wear, that is why we came in a bit early, and then I had this problem with the other tyres so I had to come back in again, but it didn't hurt me besides the fact that it looks now that I have a big gap to the front. But I am still third so that's fine.

Q: What about the pressure earlier on. How much pressure were you giving your brother?

RS: Not really. I saw he was pushing Juan and I just stepped back and thought you never know what the two of them are doing so I thought we should have a bit of a gap between ourselves because it looked pretty spectacular what Juan did sometimes so it was just a matter of time I thought, so that is why I stayed back and saved fuel.

Q: For David. How important is this win for you, personally, for the team and also for the interests of the fans for the championship. You proved today that it is possible to beat Ferrari.

DC: I think you are absolutely right. It's important for all of those factors because prior to this race it was only a Schumacher that had won the Grands Prix this year, so I guess that makes it a little more interesting, and clearly for the team, we have had a difficult start to the year, for myself. Our expectations were much higher than the performance that we have had and it is another twist in the show. So I am delighted because I have been able to pick up the trophy but irrespective of if it is me or someone else other than a driver for other than Williams or Ferrari that has got to be good for Formula One because in a world cup football year we have to do something interesting to keep the viewers.

Q: David. What was the most difficult during the race. Was it not to think about victory?

DC: Yeah. Inevitably you flash forward to the end of the race and you realise it is a bit premature to have those thoughts because there have been many Grands Prix where you think everything is going well and something can go wrong, so it is important to keep the concentration and to keep pushing because clearly with the pit stop strategy and the pace that Michael was running before I made my stop, it was important to stop early and maintain our position.

Q: Did something special cross your mind when you lapped Bernoldi?

DC: Yeah. I thought he was going to hold me for a little while but in fact he was fine so, yeah I remember very well because I spent 50 odd laps behind him last year. I don't like the black and orange colours!

Q: David. In the last few laps, Michael closed the gap. Were you worried the tyres were going wrong or do you believe that because he is the leader of the championship he wanted to catch you?

DC: You always have to believe a racer is going to race, so I don't think he is going to sit there if there is an opportunity. But there is only a couple of races here where someone can get a runner on you and as long as I was quick in those areas then really there is just a bit of traffic at the end and you have always got to be a bit cautious with yellow flags and things like that, the gap is never going to maintain it is going to go up and down a bit.

Q: For David. How important were the tyres in that victory today?

DC: We will never know what the car would feel like had we been on the other tyres, but I think it is fair to presume that Michelin had the better tyre this weekend if you look at qualifying performance. The graining that I saw until lap 10 was a little bit worrying, but once that was cleared up then the performance of the tyre was fantastic. So more of the same please in future races please, Mr Michelin.

Q: Michael. Did you honestly expect to be second today. Did you think you could get first or did you just want to get to the end of the race and score as many points as possible?

MS: You always try. The race is very long and with the pit stop strategy we knew we could maybe improve. So, you never believe where you are that is where you are going to finish. You always have to think positive.

Q: David. It is a long time since celebratory drinks. Is there anything special planned for tonight?

DC: Yeah. A party at the Colombus of course.

Q: Michael. Looking back at qualifying do you think Bridgestone was too conservative with the tyres or did they risk too much?

MS: Too conservative or risk too much? Well, for whatever reason we were not good enough compared to the race. We were very good in the race so you can't say they have been too conservative or too aggressive. No. Simply with the difference of tyre manufacturers they can have this sort of behaviour - very good for one lap and maybe not so consistent and maybe the other way around for the others. We have sent his recently in Austria. Qualifying was rather tight compared to the race.

Q: Michael. Looking back over the last two weeks, how much of a distraction has it all been and do you feel that all the furore in Austria is behind you and you can get on with the championship now without the fuss?

MS: Honestly I felt before the race like that. Obviously, when you sit in the car it is not something you think about, you just concentrate on your job and it is unfortunate to have things going on like this, but it is part of life.

Q: David. Was there much debris in the tunnel after Sato's accident and after all the other incidents?

DC: We were pretty lucky today in that all the debris was off line. You can see it there, even with the Toyota up at Casino Square late in the race, that all the debris seemed to be pretty much off line and there was no oil, which is always the worst thing for a driver because you can't see that until it is too late.

-fia-

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Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams