US GP: Saturday press conference

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m10.790s 2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m11.058s (+ 0.268s) 3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1m11.413s (+ 0.623s) Q: It was an amazing experience with all the flags out there. But before the session, they all ...

1. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1m10.790s
2. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1m11.058s (+ 0.268s)
3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1m11.413s (+ 0.623s)

Q: It was an amazing experience with all the flags out there. But before the session, they all seemed to be for Montoya, then suddenly they're all Ferrari again.

Michael Schumacher: Well, I think they're with the person who puts the best effort, and today that was us and that's why the crowd cheers us. Obviously, Ferrari is a little bit known in America, too, and we have a lot of supporters here. And it's a fantastic feeling to be out here and get the roar of the crowd. I mean the atmosphere here is very special.

Q: Now, you gave us a bit of a surprise at the beginning, aborted that first flying lap. What was that problem there?

MS: It's not so quick in the grass to continue running and that's why I aborted it.

Q: I'll take your word for it. Thank you, Michael. Rubens, a good strong second position today. Did that exceed your expectations or was that just how you thought you might be after the untimed this morning?

Rubens Barrichello: Obviously, after yesterday I was playing a little bit of catching up. I think it's been quite difficult out there today because the balance seems to be different from run to run and we tried to adjust ourselves but it was a bit difficult. But at the end of the day, I think we have our car first and second, and that's quite important.

Q: They built up a whole new chassis for you overnight. That's good for the car, but how are you? Did they have to build a new Rubens?

BR: No, no, I'm feeling fine. The impact, I was very lucky I hit a good angle on the wall, because otherwise I could have hurt myself. But I'm feeling perfect.

Q: Glad to hear it. David, you left that very, very fine, your final flying lap pipping Juan Pablo Montoya by .001 of a second. Great result.

David Coulthard: Yeah, obviously the best qualifying I've had since Monaco, so I'm very happy with that. It's quite difficult to get a consistent lap here because of the nature of the track. I knew there was a quicker time in the car and it was just a question of trying to keep it all together. I actually lost a tenth in that last sector, so it made it closer than it otherwise might have been.

Q: Is it correct that between the untimed session and then qualifying, you had to have an engine change?

DC: Yeah, I had a hydraulic problem this morning, so as a precaution we changed engines. So the guys did a good job obviously to get the car out and gave us the opportunity to qualify in the second row.

Q: Thank you very much, David. Michael, back to you. Tomorrow the race. For a few races it seemed you have been trying to help Rubens get second place in the championship. But tomorrow, if you win the race, then that guarantees it for Rubens, runner-up. Are we going to see the gloves off?

MS: Basically we have a free situation. And as Jean mentioned in one of the press conferences, as you said, first of all, I have to win it. Rubens will make that very difficult for me, and so will the other guys. But if I have the opportunity, I can do so and that means automatically second position is secured for him. But it's going to be an entertaining afternoon tomorrow.

Q: Michael, you've been on top, dominated the practice, even though sometimes you've done very few laps on occasions. One could almost expect you to be actually with a greater margin, but still enough, isn't it?

MS: Honestly, we have seen big margins on the Friday and Saturday mornings and we still have been losing out in qualifying. I think it was Silverstone, for example, and, therefore, it's always a surprise what is actually going to happen in qualifying, although you seem to be up front for the free practice sessions. But today was a good one for us. I mean, although I had to back off for yellow flags in the second sector, I still managed to do basically my best lap time. I didn't manage to have the best sector in that lap time, but still it was good enough, and that's obviously ideal.

Q: Just clarify what you said a moment ago about the first run, why you aborted the first run.

MS: I went wide in the first corner. I locked up a little bit the front inside wheel and couldn't make the corner.

Q: That's when you went on the grass?

MS: Yeah.

Q: Then at the end when you went out again, was the track slower? I mean Rubens was saying it's changing all the time, was the track actually slower at the end?

MS: I mean maybe the wind is changing. It's possible. I mean everybody seemed to struggle to really do the lap time again or get faster. Some have done, some have not done. It's difficult to say. I did, in my last lap I did basically the same time as I had done before, within a few hundredths or thousandths. I don't know.

Q: There's no specific reason anyway.

MS: No, I mean maybe it is the wind. I mean, the wind was gusting a little bit. Depending where you are in what part of the circuit, it was good or bad for you.

Q: What about tomorrow, that first corner? We've seen quite a few people go off at the first corner. Obviously, it's very difficult, very precise to have to brake from such a high speed for such a slow corner. Tell us about the difficulties encountered there.

MS: I think it's much easier than what we have seen in Monza because Monza is much tighter and a lot higher speed you arrive with and so on. I don't expect a big problem there, plus you have a very wide area you can use if you, for whatever reason, have to escape a problem in front of you. So I don't expect a big problem there.

Q: Rubens, you mentioned just now playing a certain amount of catch-up. Is that really the case? Obviously you lost the whole of yesterday. How are the race preparations?

BR: Well, obviously I didn't have any run yesterday. The car, I just found out this morning how it was. Obviously it's a good car, it doesn't need a hell of a lot to be going fast. But when you get to a certain point, it's quite difficult, especially this track to be able to fine tune here and there. That's where I found the four runs I had, it was, you know, I improve it, you know, sector one and then go worse in sector two. I never really could put all the sectors together.

But, you know, looking for what has happened yesterday and the certain laps that I did today, I'm fairly happy and quite a bit excited for tomorrow because it's a good position. We both can have good races and it's fairly good.

Q: Just to clarify, the car presumably feels exactly the same as you would expect? Just because it's a spare chassis, no difference?

BR: No, no, the car is exactly the same as yesterday. They changed the chassis and the car is as good as - not that the other one would have done better, no. It's just a thing - I think the track and the wind, like Michael was saying, changed a little bit, but the car is as good as the other one.

Q: You were talking just now about understeer and oversteer, you're getting a bit different from lap to lap, is it going to be more stable in the race? Is it normally more stable in the race?

BR: Qualifying, you have new tires and you go for it. That's the best time you can find the car good. But normally our car seems to react quite well to the changes for the races and it's definitely a good and stable car for the race. I mean we have to see how's the weather tomorrow, how's the wind and everything. It's a tricky track because it's, you know, you have such a long straight and a very tight part of the circuit. So it's a bit of a gamble on set-ups.

Q: David, that was a pleasant surprise at the end for us all. Was it a surprise for you?

DC: Well, I knew from the morning session that it was going to be very close; and this circuit, like Brazil, has the sort of closest spread of qualifying lap times typically. So, as Rubens mentioned, it's difficult to get all your sectors together. I believe I could go quicker and, in fact, I lost a tenth in that last sector just by getting a little bit late on the power in the last corner. So, no, you know, it's nice to qualify third. Obviously, that's the best I've had in quite a bit so far this season. And normally our race performance has been reasonably strong as well. So I'm feeling good for tomorrow.

Q: McLaren won here last year. Do you expect to be equally challenging?

DC: Anything can happen in the races, you know. Qualifying has been more set this year and the race has shown up different performances, depending on how the tires are working. Obviously, it really depends on what the Michelin-Bridgestone split is like.

Q: Do you feel it's pretty good so far?

DC: The qualifying position would indicate that it's not too bad. Obviously, there's still quite a gap to Ferrari. It's quite a short lap here. And if they're able to maintain that pace in race trim, then obviously you don't have a chance. As I mentioned before, the way the tires perform in the race has been different in some of the circuits, so we may have a good opportunity.

Q: Michael, two years ago this was a new circuit for everybody in Formula One. Now that this is going to be the third race here, are you guys beginning to feel like it's second nature when you run here or do you develop a rhythm and have a better feel for the course?

MS: Yeah, you certainly do. I mean, you know what you have to do with the car. You know what to expect for sort of race distance, as you have the experience. So it does help.

Q: Michael, if you could change one thing in the design of the circuit, what would you change?

MS: Probably the very tight bit. It's not so famous for us.

Q: David, I gather there was a bit of discussion at the drivers' meeting yesterday concerning the pit lane entry. May I ask you how it got sorted out?

DC: The pit lane has been moved, I think, by 30 meters later, which I personally think is better. I haven't had the chance to ask the other drivers but it means you brake more in a straight line, where yesterday you were on the turn.

Q: Michael, there was a story in one of the newspapers that while you were in Texas you were considering maybe taking a few fun laps around the stock car track down there. Can you tell us what happened?

MS: I think I told this story already before. Basically, it was not now, it was during the Canadian Grand Prix or before. And having a holiday down in Texas, we made a motorcycle tour and we hit the Speedway. So we went inside to have a look and there was this opportunity to buy a ticket and go around for a ride or be driven. And we asked whether we could go as well and how much it was costing and how long it would take. Unfortunately, we had to wait four or five hours before we were able to get the ride, and we didn't want to ruin the day for waiting four or five hours just to go with the car. That was the story. But the good thing was nobody recognised me and I was completely alone and watched the cars a little bit and have a view from a different point of position.

Q: You would have been quite happy to be driven around the circuit by this person?

MS: I wanted to find out whether I could - I mean you had the opportunity to be driven around or to buy a ticket to drive yourself, to take a lesson. (Laughter). Obviously, I was interested in this one.

Q: It might happen another day.

MS: You never know.

Q: Two questions. Anybody surprised that Montoya is not on this podium? And second of all to David: Would Michael still be the favourite even if he were in the back of the field tomorrow? If we started him at the rear, would he still be the favourite?

DC: A bit of a bizarre question. (Laughter) No.

MS: I'm not surprised he's not sitting in the middle today, but obviously if we look at the qualifying performance over the year, it was a little bit more difficult usually for the two McLarens to out-qualify the Williams. So naturally you don't expect it from the beginning. But obviously they've done a good job.

Q: Rubens, you had a really good car in last year's race and you ran up front until something happened. If you should bring it home tomorrow, talk about the accomplishment of winning here. And if you do win, does that mean you have to have dinner at Tony Kanaan's house? (Laughter)

BR: Obviously, I think it would have a good impact. I mean, as I said, I love to come here, so it would be a great win. But, you know, it has nothing to do with last year and we're just starting all over again. But for sure I wouldn't leave the cup in Tony's house, I would take it to my place.

Q: What do you think of the reports that Dan Gurney and Phil Hill are attempting to put together an American Grand Prix team? How good would that be for the sport of Formula One to have a U.S. team in it?

MS: Who? I didn't understand.

Q: Dan Gurney and Phil Hill have announced that they are attempting to organise a U.S. team for Formula One next year. Apparently Cosworth may provide the engines. The question is: How good would it be for Formula One racing to have an all-American team in it, particularly if they could find American drivers?

MS: I think it would be good. I mean, as big a nationality spread you have is better for this for the coverage of Formula One. And America being such a big country and we have a race here, it would be great.

DC: Only thing I was going to say is say budget and seat belts and wings, because they didn't have them back in their day, did they? (Laughter)

Q: Michael, could you talk just briefly about the competition with your brother over the years? Did it start when you were young? And what did you think when he made it to Formula One?

MS: I mean, it probably started - he started competing with me the day he was born. (Laughter) He always wanted to stay longer awake than me and all this typically young brother issues. And he hasn't stopped doing that. (Laughter) Him being in Formula One is no surprise, to be honest, due to his efforts he has been doing. And him doing well as well is for me not a surprise either.

-fia-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams