Just four days after facing the media in the post-race press conference as the winner of the German Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher was back in front of the microphones this afternoon at the Ferrari Media Motorhome, in the Hungaroring paddock....
Just four days after facing the media in the post-race press conference as the winner of the German Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher was back in front of the microphones this afternoon at the Ferrari Media Motorhome, in the Hungaroring paddock. First item on the agenda - the championship situation.
"If you had said at the beginning of the season that I would be happy to be eleven points down in the championship, then it does not sound so good," began the seven times world champion. "But given everything that has happened recently and the way the gap has now come down from 17 to 11, it is really great. Coming to these next few circuits, we believe we have a package that means we can be really good."
Schumacher did not agree with one journalist who suggested the current return to form for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro was entirely down to the Bridgestone tyres. I'm not sure if it is especially down to the tyres," he said. "They are very important in terms of direct competition, but we have been able to do a good test prior to the summer break and in this test, we managed to sort out exactly what things we needed to do to make the car work and to understand it better."
"I think we have a great car and combining it with Bridgestone tyres it works perfectly well. But it is true the tyres are playing a key role, because if you look at other Bridgestone teams like Williams and Toyota, they also have been much stronger recently."
Having won the last three grands prix, a real title chance seems to be opening up, but the German would not write off his closest rivals. "I am pretty sure that Renault will not give up, they will fight back and they will get their opportunities. That's why it is so important that at Ferrari, we continue to maintain our momentum, while we are in this current position of strength and try and get the gap down to zero, or even get an advantage to help when maybe they get strong again."
On the subject of various rumours - Raikkonen to join the Scuderia, Ross Brawn to leave the Scuderia - Michael smiled before replying: "there is really nothing new to comment on and we will all know much more when we get to Monza (in September for the Italian GP.)"
Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber is on record as saying that Michael should retire if he wins the title this year. "He is entitled to his opinion," commented Michael. "That is why we have worked so well together for so many years. We talk and think about things together. At the end of the day though, everyone has to make their own decision. When the right moment comes, we will discuss it."
The championships have definitely come alive again in the last few weeks and Schumacher also feels that personally. "If you go back to before Indy when I was 25 points down, this current situation certainly gives you an extra boost," admitted the Ferrari driver. "The championship title is now a much more realistic title than it was three races ago."
"So, you never give up, but fight to the very end and I love being in the position where I need to fight. I hope at the end, it will all come together. As for this weekend, I am very optimistic, because we have prepared very well and tested very well, much better than earlier in the season, so I am feeling very confident and that also applies to the rest of the season."