1. Michael SCHUMACHER(FERRARI), 1h29m10.789s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO(FERRARI), 1h29m28.696s (+ 17.907s) 3. Ralf SCHUMACHER(WILLIAMS), 1h29m30.544s (+ 19.755s) Q: You must be delighted for yourself, the team and your fans? Michael Schumacher:...
Q: You must be delighted for yourself, the team and your fans?
Michael Schumacher: Yes, indeed. There are obviously many reasons to be proud and happy. We failed last year after a lot of hopes, both Rubens and myself, and we couldn't deliver as much we were expecting and this year we've given something back to the tifosi. It's the first home Grand Prix for us this year. It is, as you said, a special Grand Prix for me here today in the history of Ferrari, so therefore I am more than proud to have done it this way.
Q: Give us a few words about Rory Byrne and his great new car?
MS: He's a unique person, there's no doubt. I've rarely seen a gentleman like him being motivated in any circumstances, being such a great person and we have now worked together I don't know how many years, but most of my Formula One career I've been working somehow together with him and I have to say that I've really enjoyed that on the human side and obviously on the technical side. What he has been delivering to Ferrari I think is such a consistently good job that we can be more than proud to have a person like him in the team, despite all the other persons who obviously support him because it's not all due to him, but he obviously is the main person concerning design. It's great to have such a person in our team.
Q: Rubens, you must be so relieved to finally finish a race
Rubens Barrichello: That's true. It's basically been three races without any points, so I was looking forward to finishing a race and it's like Michael said, it's been a really wonderful time because to finish first and second in front of our tifosi here, it's really great. I'm proud to have a car like that. It's been one of my best weekends in terms of car set-up and car balance, because it's been a really wonderful car.
Q: There seemed to be a slight problem in your second pit stop and you seemed to be slower towards the end. Were there problems?
RB: I don't know where the problem was. I think I had a small problem on the left rear tyre but after the second stop, after five laps, they told me to take care of the engine so I just slowed down a little.
Q: Ralf, was third the best you had in the package today?
Ralf Schumacher: It was the best we could do. We have a reasonably good strategy, very similar to Ferrari's. I managed to stay in front of Rubens in the first stint but then he pitted a lap later so that's why he got me. I think our car was good today, the team did a great job and we did the best with what we had today, but it certainly looks like it is not good enough so we have to improve if we want to win races in the next few weeks.
Q: It looked like you had quite a good start, but then you locked up, was that quite close to being a drama?
RS: Not really, but it's always when the brakes aren't really warm that you tend to lock the front wheels from time to time. It looks worse than it is.
Q: Michael, big party tonight?
MS: We will certainly have a celebration but obviously being so early in the season, our mind is now already on the next Grand Prix. We start testing from Tuesday onwards, so preparation goes on. It's a bit of a shame that we won't have more time to enjoy such success, but for sure, we will open a bottle of champagne and have a glass together.
Q: Michael, did you expect to dominate quite so much?
MS: No, you couldn't expect it at all. We were close in qualifying. We then expected the race to become more difficult due to past experience but as we saw, Bridgestone has brought a new tyre which gives us more consistency and we're very happy with that and that basically delivers the job, with the package of the new car and obviously the team doing the job properly. It's mainly due to the tyre.
Q: Ross says that the car treats the tyres more consistently.
MS: Yes, it's a combination of things and for sure the car has a big effect but the tyres play a big part as well, if you consider what we had last year here.
Q: You got to half distance before you made your first pit stop. Could you not have fuelled for the rest of the race then?
MS: Sure. But why should we? For us, the fastest strategy was two stops. We had to consider that maybe the weather conditions could have changed, and in that respect it would have been a bit more flexible. It was simply our choice.
Q: Were you expecting rain?
MS: Not necessarily, but it was our choice and we felt that was right one.
Q: Rubens, you were obviously quick but if things had been different at the start, might the race had been different?
RB: In all honesty, we are dealing with buttons, with paddles, and the start was probably the same as Michael's but I was on the dirty side so Ralf had a jump on me. I had no way to close the door any more because already on the jump he was by my side. Basically I paid the price for the time I lost yesterday. If I had kept pole yesterday, probably the story could have been different, but there is no crying right now. I am very happy the way things went. I had a brilliant car and when I had a free track, I was driving the best I could and unfortunately, being behind someone at Imola, you just lose downforce and you're nowhere, you can only follow. I think I gave a good impression of that when I was held up by the Jaguar, that I caught up Ralf quite rapidly but there was no chance to overtake, so it was lucky that he came in a lap earlier than me and then I was able to do a really fantastic lap at that time, and then have my own race.
Q: After the second pit stop, you were gaining on Michael; what was your feeling then until you were told to slow?
RB: I was driving nicely. I was treating the car quite well. As I said, the car was fantastic so I was just driving, just enjoying myself. The car was going quicker and quicker. I had no idea of my lap time because I lost all my telemetry after lap six or seven, but I could see the gaps, I could see my boards. I was really enjoying it. It was only after the second pit stop they told me to look after the engine and then I slowed up.
Q: What was the sign that you made after you got past the Jaguar?
RB: Just told him to go to hell. It's so silly. He's the one that talks so much in briefings blah blah blah blah and then he holds me up for three quarters of a lap. He let Ralf by in a nice way, he could have let me by in the same place but then he came in and stayed in for another five or six corners so I just found it was silly, that's all. He's getting old anyway!
Q: Ralf. The battle with Rubens early on - how hard was he pushing?
RS: I think I tried to go away from him but I realised whenever something went wrong and he had a little gap he was able to close that very soon so I think he was simply sitting and waiting there. They were clearly stronger than we were today so we had no chance and we did the best we could have done out of the package. The car was very good, we had good strategy, the team worked perfectly with the pit stops and we were simply not strong enough this weekend.
Q: You were catching him at the end though. Did you just keep pushing?
RS: Yes. We realised he slowed down and thought he had a problem but he didn't, he was simply slowing down and looking after his car.
Q: So are you a bit disappointed and depressed about today?
RS: Certainly we are. We went to the last two races with the impression we could win them, we failed, twice, so why should be too happy about it? We clearly want to win races, that's obvious. I mean when we get away from here with a few points a podium is not bad, but it is not our target.
Q: For Ralf. Could you explain what your strategy was and why it was so close to Michael's?
RS: It was a two-stop strategy, as you saw. I think we have very similar opinions about strategy. There is a quicker strategy concerning your package and maybe they were about the same opinion as we had.
MS: As I said, an altogether better strategy.
Q: So, a one stop strategy wouldn't have been useful?
RS: If it would have been, we would have used it today, but it wasn't and we simply decided for the best and quickest one, and that was a two-stop for us.
RS: It is not really nice to see someone win in that manner because we only have two weeks until the next race and it seems there is a bit of work for us which we supposedly are not able to do until the next race. But then again the season is very long so anything can happen.
Q: The next race is at Barcelona and that is your testing track anyway...
RS: It is our testing track, but Barcelona has been very difficult in the past years for us and we will just have to wait and see.
Q: For Michael and Rubens, is it rewarding to win in front of the Italian supporters. It is like winning at home for a soccer team...
MS: I don't know how the soccer team feels but we certainly feel delighted especially after last year, from my point of view.
RB: I agree with him.
Q: Michael, did you see any improvement on the car from the first race in Brazil?
MS: I think the improvement simply is, for whatever reason, and I have explained this, that altogether the cars have been much closer together. The Sauber, whatever cars, they have been much closer in Brazil and historically it has always happened in Brazil, which to me shows that the car maybe is not able to show the real improvement and potential it may have, and on such a circuit you see much more of it, and that is why I believe we actually could show a little bit more on our new car this weekend.
Q: Ralf. Before, you said 'we are not strong enough'. In your mind, what was wrong this weekend?
RS: It is too early to say this weekend. We have to sit together and go through all the data we have and analyse what is wrong. Simply there is something wrong because we finished third with 20 seconds behind Michael, so there is something we have to look at. We never made a deal out of it that on the aerodynamic side we are lacking a bit. I am sure the engine is very good so that cannot be a reason for it, and as well the tyre worked perfectly today. But I mean, if all these factors improve a bit it is a whole new situation and it is going to look totally different at the end of the day.
Q: Michael. We are facing three races where tyres will be critical. How do you expect the car to perform in them?
MS: Again it is difficult to say. We were in Brazil and here and we did expect rather little for us. We thought we would struggle, maybe, and we won these two races. I wouldn't be surprised if we come to Barcelona, which we maybe feel is an ideal circuit for us, and we maybe struggle. Maybe things simply change for whatever reason. I hope it is not the case, I hope we can keep our performance up in Barcelona as well. What concerns the other races, Austria and Monte Carlo, I don't know. It is difficult to foresee for me. I think Monaco we have traditionally been very strong and again last year we have been strong in Barcelona so I guess that should be the case this year. Austria is a difficult area to say what is going to happen.
Q: Rubens. Today you had three problems - at the start, in the second pit stop, and then overtaking Irvine. Could you explain what happened?
MS: At the start, like I said, I was on the dirty side of the track so I probably had too much wheel spin. The second pit stop I had a problem with the wheel nut at the rear wheel and with Eddie, he just slowed me down for too long, I guess. He could have let me by much earlier.