US GP: Winners' press conference

1. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h31m07.934s 2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m07.945s (+ 0.011s) 3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h31m15.733s (+ 7.799s) Q: What a fantastic finish to the third SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis...


1. Rubens BARRICHELLO (FERRARI), 1h31m07.934s
2. Michael SCHUMACHER (FERRARI), 1h31m07.945s (+ 0.011s)
3. David COULTHARD (McLAREN), 1h31m15.733s (+ 7.799s)

Q: What a fantastic finish to the third SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, right on the line. Rubens Barrichello for Ferrari, Michael Schumacher second and David Coulthard third. It's very hard to choreograph a finish like that, .01 of a second. Rubens, was that planned or was it a mistake?

Rubens Barrichello: No, I mean it wasn't planned. We never said at the beginning of the race. I guess, we had a lot of fun in the race trying to be as fast as the other, and at the end what can I say? I mean, I just thank Michael very much, and thank the whole team for the support of the whole year. I mean, we did everything now: We're first, we're second, we won the constructors. I guess the crowd was happy for me. It was very important - the USA is such an important part of my life. To win, it was very, very, very good. I got to the last corner, I didn't know what to do and nothing has been said. Michael was just very kind to, you know, let us finish equally. I guess I pointed a little bit in front, but, you know, what can we say? I mean, it's just - I think it's zero-zero now. We're just having a lot of fun together, working together and having the car in front of everyone.

Q: It certainly sent the crowd wild. Now, in 2000, you were fourth overall; last year, third overall; and this year, as of today, second overall. Are you looking forward to 2003?

RB: Very much. I'm a happy man inside of the team. We work well together, we work very well together. With both test drivers, we work very well together. And I think we built a fantastic team. I mean it's, yeah, I'm looking forward, but that doesn't mean that it's going to be better or worse. We just have to enjoy life and I'm enjoying very much.

Q: Michael, it sounds as though it was your decision to try to get - was it a dead heat? You wanted to get the ultimate precise bit of driving or did you intend Rubens just to get in front?

Michael Schumacher: Maybe.(Laughter). I mean, we have so many records done this year, I think the race won, what is the closest finish? In all honesty, I think we're just such a great team together, Rubens and myself. We work very hard. We have a fantastic team and we have always supported each other. And today I thought it was a good opportunity to go equal over the line. We tried, we failed by a little bit.

Q: You didn't fail by much. That was the closest ever finish, .01 of a second. You predicted yesterday that it would be a close race here, not just between yourself and Rubens, but also with perhaps McLaren and Williams. It seemed McLaren really raised their game today and got right up with you.

MS: Yeah, that was expected, to be honest. If you see the gap, it's just over about ten seconds - no, even less than ten seconds in the end of the race, which shows that it was a tight race. I think the strategy we used, two stops in the end was supposed to be by about ten seconds faster. But would we have been stuck behind, then our strategy could have been a problem. So, all in all, we did the right thing at the right time, we had the right car and our guys did the right strategy for us.

Q: David when you closed up at half distance, you had yet to come in for your only pit stop but you were right behind the Ferraris. Did you reckon at that stage you might be able to get past them?

David Coulthard: There was a lot of traffic at that point. You know, it was incredible. I've never seen so many cars that have to be lapped. So I think it helped that the Ferraris were going through the traffic first of all and helped clear a little bit of space for me. The fact that I was already a stop down and realistically it was just a case of not trying to lose too much time and make sure I could keep third place.

Q: You were pressing hard right to the finish with Juan Pablo Montoya closing in on you, but you couldn't afford to back off because I would have thought the knowledge that Kimi Raikkonen's engine had blown, must have made you want to lift your foot just that little bit off the pedal?

DC: In fact, we changed the strategy for the engine and I was driving to protect the engine for the last 20 laps of the race. I think our pace could have been quicker but we weren't going to beat Ferrari and it was just a question of finishing in front of Williams. Just a precaution because of Kimi's problem but, nonetheless, I think we can take a bit of a boost from this weekend because we've taken a little step forward.

Q: Back to you, Rubens. The crowd here has been absolutely fantastic, as you said. Next race, Suzuka in Japan, the crowd there also very excited but rather different.

RB: Well, it's a different place but for the Brazilians I would say it has always been quite good. I mean, Senna was there in Japan. So I have a lot of good Japanese tifosi and it's going to be good to go there and the car working fine. Hopefully we're going to have a very good race for Bridgestone which I guess is the most important right now.

Q: Here they are, ladies and gentlemen, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, and David Coulthard. Well, Rubens, that was an interesting one. Quite nice to have that on your plate, isn't it? Quite nice to be handed that one on your plate.

RB: Si.

Q: Now, tell us, I know before the start of the race, a lot of decisions to make, you told me before the start for two hours or something like that. What sort of decisions were made during that time?

RB: Well, in the number of pit stops, the decision to run the T-car or not, because I felt the T-car was a better car this morning. I ended up racing the race car because we were not sure about the brake problem I had on the T-car in the warm-up. Se-tup changes, the weather was getting hotter and hotter. We were still uncertain about the laps we could manage on the tires. But I guess we took the right one. I mean, both cars were running quite well.

Q: You have been playing catch-up since Friday really.

RB: Yeah, yeah. But it is not as bad as other tracks. If I had, for example, lost Friday in Imola or Spa, it would have been a little bit more difficult. I mean, the track here is difficult to set up because you have the choice of going faster on the straights or going fast into the infield. But it was quite straightforward. The car is working perfectly since the beginning of the year. So that helps you making the right choices on setups and things.

Q: The gaps did vary between yourself and Michael. Was that because of traffic or what other reasons?

RB: I was a little bit - I wasn't very happy with the traffic, to be honest, because people seemed to just back off in the middle of the straight thinking that, okay, I'll keep my line, back off in the middle of the straight and then you go by. But you have to, you know, to be a bit sensible in that situation because all of a sudden people stop in front of you and you have a crash. So twice I got the Toyota in front of me, and then there was a time when there was a Minardi blow up in front of me on the lap that I was coming in. So I lost that region of one to two seconds where I had it to be closer. I think I had the car and the pace to be closer to Michael the whole day. But it was just - he was maybe better or a little bit luckier just to get ahead on traffic and stay that two seconds.

Q: Michael, you were the first on the road for all but the last nano-second.

MS: For what?

Q: You never heard of a nano-second, okay. Ask Ross about a nano-second. He'll describe it. It's very small. A tick. What was the traffic like for yourself?

MS: Yeah, I had similar problems, in all honesty. There were a couple of guys that were trying to be nice but in the wrong place. And sometimes it's difficult for the person to judge in front if he backs off, that maybe the guy behind doesn't understand what he's doing and you then get a surprise suddenly because you don't expect anything in the middle of a corner like this. One corner is Turn Three to Turn Four, if you back off right in Turn Three, you don't expect that and you then have not much chance to go somewhere, a couple of issues like that. And a couple of guys, particular I think "Irv The Swerve" staying a little bit long with blue flags in front of us. I think he was the most difficult one today honestly. But otherwise, it's a typical race.

Q: Basically the car was perfect?

MS: Yes, yes. We had to be sort of a little bit careful, especially in the first stint, not to push too hard initially. After we'd done a certain number of laps, then the race was clean and we knew where we were and then everything was easy.

Q: How worried were you by McLaren today?

MS: Obviously, it was tight, but in the moment I was able to get in front of David after the pit stop, I thought of - I knew that we had a good opportunity today to keep this position. But obviously tighter than other races we have seen previously.

Q: Okay, thanks, Michael. David, you said that you felt you had made a step forward this weekend. In any specific area or all areas?

DC: Well, performance mainly.

Q: From the tires, from the engine, from the car?

DC: We had a change to the car which I think, on paper anyway, has made us perform a little bit better here. Obviously, you don't have the opportunity sometimes in a Grand Prix, we can't do it back to back, but, yeah, I think slowly we're making a little bit of progress, and obviously the first goal is to get in front of Williams consistently. We have one more race to see if we can maintain that. But nonetheless, I think we can say that we have made progress and that's encouraging.

Q: Which car did you use today? Because you had a fuel problem this morning, didn't you, fuel leak?

DC: I did the warm-up in the T-car and they fixed the problems. I used the race car. It sounds pretty similar to Rubens in that there's no difference between the cars but you get a little bit more comfortable in whatever one you spend most of your time. And in the end I decided to race the race car even though I hadn't done the warm-up. At first I thought the car was quite tricky to drive. As the fuel burned off, then it became reasonably balanced.

Q: I was going to say you had a pretty heavy fuel load for that, 40-odd laps?

DC: Yeah, I was quite surprised actually how good my start was with that level of fuel. I actually gained on both the cars in front initially, and then it was just obviously once the weight effect really took over, they gained a little bit down into the first corner. So, yeah, it's just a case of trying to keep it on the track and keep pushing right to the stop.

Q: Do you think a two-stop strategy would have made a difference?

DC: Not in my situation today. I think what we did was the right strategy.

Q: Michael, was it your plan that you win and Rubens finish a very, very close second and then did the plan backfire on you?

MS: There was no plan, in all honesty. There was no plan at all. It was just that I felt he deserves to win this race and the team asked me sort of not to do anything. And then we went side by side and in the end he was the winner. We both didn't know actually who was the winner. He was asking me down the straight, you won, me won? And I didn't know either. So we had to wait until we saw some sort of screen who was.

Q: Michael, did you feel particularly generous today? (Laughter)

MS: You know, I've said before we are such a good team and we understand each other very well. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice, for me, in a couple of races this year. And to a certain degree, what goes around comes around. And maybe this was the day.

Q: Yes, for Michael. I'm an American journalist and this is my first Formula One race covering it. Certainly I may not understand the politics of your sport, but could you please help me understand why the American fans who paid a good bit of money to come here, why they should not be resentful or offended that they've seen a sporting event where the outcome has been manipulated?

MS: I don't think, if you look at how close we were, that you can call this a purpose situation. I just felt and we do this very often actually that we run almost side by side together. As I said before, I mean I didn't know who was the winner. And in the end it was Rubens, who in the end I think he deserves the win, because you have to look at one package. I know from your point of view, maybe you see only this one event. We obviously raced 16 races this year together, and I see all the rest in one goal. And maybe I'm sure one or the other person won't agree with what has happened today, but you can't have always everybody to agree to what you do, unfortunately. But I think he deserves it.

Q: I think you're right, Michael. A lot of people won't understand it and won't agree with it. I'm puzzled. Why do it so obviously? You must have been aware that another staged finish is going to draw criticism of Formula One.

MS: As I said to you, there wasn't any plan of that.

Q: But it still happened. You tried at the finish to have a photo finish or something, didn't you?

MS: We tried to be side by side.

RB: We were.

MS: And we were, yeah. (Laughter)

Q: But even that, do you understand what I am getting at, you know, that you were ahead, Rubens was second and suddenly you close up at the end, and then you try and go across the line side by side.

MS: Again, I can only say there wasn't any plan of this. But in the end, for my point of view, I didn't feel particularly happy with what happened in Austria, but from the point of decision we had to make at the time, I understood and we both understood it. And to be honest, with now what has happened, I feel to some degree I equalized this and I feel I can give him back something where he deserved to win. We said we wouldn't do this and we hadn't planned to do this. And it happened, it just happened.

Q: Michael, when you said a few minutes ago that the team had asked you not to do anything, could you clarify whether they meant don't slow down and create a situation like this; or did they ask you not to do anything, meaning don't resist his attempt to pass? Could you clarify when you said they asked you not to do anything?

MS: In all honesty I did ask before whether I could let him by and could let him win the race and they said no. As again, there was no plan of this. So the team didn't basically want this to probably not happen, but has happened now. But I feel it's nice that this happened.

Q: Rubens, if you could just kind of compare and contrast the way you felt after Austria to the way you feel now, I mean, do you have sincere good feelings or do you feel, you know - just compare and contrast those feelings.

RB: I feel quite good, actually. I feel that I had a fantastic race. We were battling and I was pushing really hard after the first pit stop. I was on new tires and I, you know, gave a really hard time to Michael. We were going for it. It isn't that we were planning to stay the way we were. I mean, we were fighting. I pushed every button I could trying to pass him, but it wasn't possible. But we had a good race together. After the second pit stop, the team said just to save a little bit because, you know, we saw so many blow-ups and everything. At the end I wasn't expecting, we were close together, but, like Michael said, I think if you purely think that I won Austria and he won Indy, that's it. There's nothing to complain. (Laughter)

Q: Yeah, Michael, I think everybody understands what you're saying when you say you wanted to pay Rubens back for what he did in Austria, but shouldn't you be trying your hardest to win all the time? Isn't that your job?

MS: You know, I think life is to be honest and to be fair and, that's what I want to be.

Q: Michael, to be all the time on top, to be winning like 14 races and the way you did this year as an individual, it doesn't make you feel sometime that you would like to have more competition from other teams? Don't you have sometimes during the race the sense that you would like to have more to fight to win?

MS: You know, it's difficult for you to understand how much I had to fight to keep this guy behind me today. In racing it's always only one. It's hardly two or three you fight at the same time. Today Rubens was the person to give me a hard run. I wasn't missing anything, no.

Q: Michael, you said recently, "I have a fixation for winning." I'm wondering after this race and Monza, whether you have a fixation for second place?

MS: Well, wait 'til Japan. (Laughter). Try again.

Q: Michael, I'm sure you would like me to change the subject a little bit. What happened on the start? Did you think you might get penalized for reversing into your grid box? And are you looking forward to seeing and talking to Jean and Luca when you finish this press conference? Do you think there will be any - are they going to give you a hard time, you think?

MS: I don't think so concerning what happened at the start. What happened at the start did happen to me some years ago in Austria. I simply saw the Brickyard and I was for one little second confused that the Brickyard is the line and the first position should be there. I went over a little bit and I saw no line anymore. I thought, "Oops." (Laughter) But reversing and going into your position, I don't think it's any problem. So I don't think I'm going to be penalized for this.

Q: The final part of the question was: What do you think Jean's reaction is going to be to your -

MS: Maybe I have to keep my helmet on when I get back. (Laughter)

Q: Michael, I mean we all understand it's not your fault that Ferrari is dominant this season, but it's had a profound effect on the TV ratings and such. For the good of the sport, would you consider going to your management and saying, "Well, next year no team orders at all? Let's just let me and Rubens fight every race any way we can and let the best man win," like it was in '88 with the two McLaren drivers, you know, a similarly dominant situation.

MS: We're wearing the racing overalls and there are certain people who make decisions for what us guys have to do. It's not for us to tell them what will be done. So I think this question is not for me honestly, or not for us.

Q: You have a very powerful opinion within your team.

MS: I think you overestimate my power.

Q: David, you've kind of famously been in a situation where you've been asked to move over in the past. How does a result like today's make you feel and how do you think the general public will look at it?

DC: I'd really like to, what is it, the Fifth Amendment or something you plead out here? (Laughter) You know, I really just don't want - can you let me not answer that one, please? (Laughter)

Q: Rubens, when Michael won here in 2000 and when Mika Hakkinen won here in 2001, they both said it was a very special win. What does it mean to you to win Formula One at Indianapolis?

RB: It is very special. I mean, don't worry - I don't think I will be worrying thinking Michael let me by and this and that. I think it's, as he said, in all honesty, there have been few times when things happen, especially in Austria and, you know, quite clearly Michael wasn't happy. You know, things happen and, as he said, we were told to do something. Today was a payback and it was - I'm completely happy with the situation. Being a South American, it was - it's quite important to me winning in this one here. Michael won the race when we were - when he, you know, conquered the championship, then I won in Austria when we did the constructors, and right now I won the race that put me into second in the championship. So I'm very happy. It's been a race, a good race. It started so badly on Friday's practice with that shunt and it was kind of a catching up the whole time. We had a really good race. You guys, I don't know if you think that we were faking something, but I was flat out and I guess Michael was, too. So I enjoy thoroughly the race the whole time. The only time I saw Michael backing off was two laps to go. So I enjoy the whole thing and I'll be thrilled to have my name on the winners here.

Q: Michael, team orders have been a way of life in F1 since maybe World War II is over. Would you mind - how would you feel if they changed that next year and said, "Okay, from now on we'll just race flat out"?

MS: First of all, I don't think it will change. I was trying to have an adequate comparison to other things in life, which they are simply like this. I mean, in basketball they keep on changing players and here we have maybe team orders for the best interest of the team. And, again, in life you will not always be able to do or satisfy hundred percent of the people. I think you have to take a decision for what is right for your team, for the job you do. I don't want to put this in it, but, as you talk about team orders, and team orders have always been the case. Sometimes you like them, sometimes you dislike them. So do we.

Q: Rubens, talk about how special it is to win with all the support you get from, you know, some of the guys in CART and the IRL that you grew up with that you raced against, Tony Kanaan, Felipe Giaffone and all that. This is kind of a busy social week for you anyway coming up to this race and to be able to cap it off and share the victory with them.

RB: Well, it's, as I said, I enjoy very much coming here. I think the public enjoy very much, because it was completely different to Austria. If you saw - I mean I saw people happy, I saw the big flags in there. Some of my friends are in here, Felipe is here and Gil is here and Helio is here. So it's very important. Helio won twice in here and, obviously, I guess it's still - the 500 is still much more important for Indianapolis than it is Formula One. But I think Formula One made a good impact into Indianapolis and we have a good show. When we are on the parade lap, you know, people are quite enjoying and the flags. So, as I said, I'm really happy to have won it here.

Q: Rubens, were you genuinely surprised when you crossed the finish line and seeing Michael backing off and pulling over on you?

RB: It took me what, three quarters of a lap to understand if I had won or not because I was pointing to him and he was pointing to me. I didn't know if he knew that I won the race or not. I was on the radio but the radio is a bit of confusion, so I didn't know what did happen. So I was a bit surprised, yeah.

Q: David, since the beginning people have been saying Formula One has no home in America. Judging by the crowd's reaction in the last three years, on the grid and afterwards, do you think that Formula One is a success here?

DC: Yeah, I do. I didn't know that people were saying that there's no place for Formula One in America. And I understand that it's not as popular here because it hasn't run here for the time that it has in Europe. So, you know, crowds - I'm told the crowd was less than previous years but it looked pretty big to me and they were very enthusiastic. You know, very similar to the sort of crowds we get in Italy in terms of the passion they have for it. I guess that was mainly the Brazilians and Colombians. But, no, I think it was great.

Q: This is a question for both Michael and Rubens. Michael, you talk about you were looking to get side by side across the line. Which line did you have in mind was the finishing line? Was it the one just in front of your grid slot or the one where Tony George was standing, which is about 15 yards further on? That's for both drivers, please.

MS: Tell me, where is the line actually.

Q: Well, Mark and I can't work it out either, but it was right in front of where we were commentating and there were definitely two lines and I wonder whether that was a problem.

MS: Does the Brickyard have a line?

RB: I have no idea.(Laughter)

Q: Michael, it's obvious that you and Rubens get along very well. Are there drivers - and I am not asking for names - who in a similar situation if you had a three-second lead with a lap to go, you would say, "He can stay three seconds behind, I am going to win by three seconds. There isn't going to be a photo finish"?

MS: I can speak for us, too. I don't know what other drivers and teammates feel at each other. But I think I have seen one or the other maybe reacting differently.

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Minardi