US GP: Winners' press conference

Sunday, June 20, 2004 Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato Moderator: A dramatic race, a dramatic first corner. Obviously a dramatic accident with your brother. Your thoughts at this moment. Schumacher: Obviously, that was the...

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato

Moderator: A dramatic race, a dramatic first corner. Obviously a dramatic accident with your brother. Your thoughts at this moment.

Schumacher: Obviously, that was the biggest concern I had, sitting for so long. I was in position or whatever and there was a Safety Car, and I saw a BMW parked there. So no place -- not anything bad. The worst thing was actually sitting for so long there. They kept telling me as they were on the phone that things were not too bad, everything was looking all right, but still, I mean, I've heard this many times in the past, and then it turned out differently. But as far as my information is concerned, life is well and that's all that matters.

Moderator: You took the lead at the first restart, can you talk about that, and also how you managed to maintain the lead behind the Safety Car after you made a pit stop?

Schumacher: Well, taking the lead after the Safety Car was purely that here the nature of the circuit is that the Safety Car switches off its light in the last sector and then you don't have much time to sort of prepare yourself to get yourself right, except having a long straight and having a car right behind slipstreaming as I was able to do with Rubens allowed me to pass. I don't know exactly what happened during the Safety Car phase. Obviously I slowed down enough to get n right for the situation and I wasn't aware of what was going on behind me at that time.

Moderator: With the pit stop behind you, the two Hondas had no pit stops, and it was a very impressive performance. Rubens, how was that from your point of view, talk about the pit stop situation.

Barrichello: Well, it was a little bit confusing because at that time, you know, I was right behind Michael, and I was focused just to get passed because unfortunately on the restart I had a lot of wheelspin, and so that allowed Michael just to take the slipstream and get past. I even got a difficult Turn 13 on the banking, it was difficult to keep it flat-up to be honest with you because the car was bottoming out so low. So I didn't have a chance to actually close the door or anything like that. Then we were running very close by, and we have that information on the Safety Car and then they tell me come in or not come in, come in or not come in. And I was slowing down enough when I came in, actually this worked OK, because then Michael was just leaving, so I didn't have lose that much time. Of course, it is a pit stop and I lost all of that position. So, I will start the race pretty much there.

Moderator: But you recovered beautifully and it was a good race toward the end.

Barrichello: Yeah, it's very unfortunate. In a way it's good to have a one-two again, and we must be proud of our team and everything. I'm just disappointed because really more than ever, I thought I had the win on my hand. I had a quick car and I was driving well and I was pushing like hell in those laps. Unfortunately there was something on the racing track that I don't know what, it's a piece of white stuff that I got out of Turn 4 that affect me; I lost more than a second and a half at that stage. And it was two laps to come to the pit, and I didn't know that the car was behaving right or not because it was a big shunt on the wheel. That was probably the second that Michael went by.

Moderator: A great drive. Takuma on the podium for the Lucky Strike BAR Honda as we said, a great drive and an interesting first call -- Fernando was very aggressive there, as well.

Sato: This is really a great result for the team, obviously not from our point of view but also for the team. The mechanics working so hard and Honda engineers in Japan, everybody welcome -- at the program, and I'm so happy to the team to bring some results here. And obviously, the turn I was really surprised the way those car was coming out short, a little outside and I left position, but come in and on restart, it was just OK. But then with a lot of suggestion, obviously it's very concerning, taking such a long time. Also under the new regulation, you cannot turn pushing hard. So our team came on the radio and say keep on the fuel and slow it down. Obviously keeping the car straight, there was so many debris and you have to avoid all of the debris in the middle of the track. So I had to nearly stop and that is why I let Michael join me under. So nevertheless, it's a fantastic.

Moderator: How was the car and the remainder of the race?

Sato: The car was difficult, to be honest. Working so well, having had a little bit luck of the pace in Canada, we struggle now in a consistency for the long run. And today the car is so consistent that I was able to push it so hard to bottle it against and, you know, getting back your position, and to finish third at the end was really great.

Moderator: Michael, it was quite a confusing race. Can we just have your closing thoughts on how it went for you today in terms of your strategy, tire wear and of course performance of the car relative to your opposition?

Schumacher: Obviously, I don't really have that picture relative to the opposition. I was at that stage looking at Rubens, and there was obviously the option before the last pit stop to go for another pit stop or two, call it the last pit stop and it was a little bit difficult because I didn't really have a very good second stint. My tires were completely gone at that stage, and I couldn't really push very hard. Then putting on a lot of fuel, not knowing how much I could push, knowing Rubens was going that fast as he was, it was very difficult just to manage the situation. And, obviously, luckily there was this board that obviously put it into my favor. It was a very close fight.

Moderator: It was indeed. Congratulations.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Moderator: Congratulations, gentlemen. Michael, well done. How important was that pit stop at the second Safety Car period and how important was -- did you change strategy because of that?

Schumacher: That's a good question. I need to really go through the race because we were then obviously staggered in different positions. And I don't know, obviously in the end we were in the same strategy. Rubens had a long first stint and a short one last, and I had a long stint last and the short one first. I guess in the end it evens out but I don't know.

Moderator: You were going for a two-top strategy, though?

Schumacher: I think we had flexibility, honestly.

Moderator: Presumably, coming in at that juncture, exactly that moment and the calling of that pit stop was crucial.

Schumacher: In a way, I didn't know what was the reason for it, why we had the Safety Car. A car spun on Turn 1, last corner and knowing now what was happening there, it obviously was crucial because obviously it was quicker through the pits with the pit stop than it was going through the accident itself. As Takuma just said, that he almost hit a stop there for the reason of -- having an accident.

Moderator: So you were pushed hard by the BAR^Òs, as well, after the Safety Car?

Schumacher: Yeah, obviously they were pretty light at that stage. We were pretty heavy. It was natural they were going to push.

Moderator: The news they gave about Ralf, did that relax you?

Schumacher: Yeah, that helped because I was shocked when I saw. I knew at some stage that Montoya was behind me whatever position, and I didn't know about Ralf having an accident, even doing the whole lap around. And then coming to the accident itself, I see the BMW. Obviously it was clear to me it was rough. I saw the way he hit the barrier, too, so I was very concerned. I don't think it helps to have a tire barrier. I don't think we need to discuss whether anything needs to be different will, honestly. I think there it's better to a wall just to keep you sliding as with Indy car, tires will probably have a worse effect in a way. Obviously, I just got the information that Ralf is OK, and that's all that matters.

Moderator: Yeah, we're glad about that as well. Thank you. Rubens, tell us about the start. How did that go?

Barrichello: The actual start was very good. I had a brilliant start, and by the time we got to the Safety Car I had probably a second -- I tell you, my car has been working fantastically well this afternoon. So the only thing that I was sorry about, it was happen anyway, it was the fact that we didn't have any information about the Safety Car, and all of a sudden the light went away, and the pressures on the tire dropped too much. It would have happened both ways because then they could argue saying that Michael prepared his tires very well. But it would have happened both ways, we would have had the pressures down. I had a lot of drag coming on to the straight and it was obviously that when I went into Turn 13 and was just having an oversteer car touching very much. And obviously Michael with the -- he had a clear, clear run and got my slipstream. But I think it's fair to say it would have happened both ways, so I had no chance at that time, but a big chance after that. So, I've tried everything I could, I really had a car to win the race today, so that's why I'm a little bit sorry, even though it was a great result.

Moderator: If you had not been trapped behind (inaudible) for six laps, would that have made a difference.

Barrichello: Yeah, probably. Also the fact that I was just telling you on the press conference that piece -- Michael was just telling me -- inaudible -- hit some board and brought him to the track because it was right in the middle of the exit, which is a blind exit and you don't see it. Because I was coming flat off, I was using the whole track. As soon as I came and saw the bank and I backed off, I thought, that's it, I lost my suspension because it was a big hit. The car turned to the left. I saw that, you know, it took me half a lap to see if the car was OK but then Turn 5 -- Turn 5, the same, as he was doing.

Moderator: And then you really had a go at Michael.

Barrichello: I had at one stage because I had new tires, and he was already using the tires, there was no way to pass. Unfortunately, he close the door, fell in, there was no -- there was no point. So, again, I just kind of look at the score 16 points, happily, but both races I could have won. So there's no race, so I go out of here happy, but willing to win sooner than ever.

Moderator: Was that a touch-and-go moment, Michael, when Rubens had a go at you after the second pit stop?

Schumacher: No, it was expected, obviously. I was in the face of having my trouble with the tires, and he was on fresh tires so for one lap, I expected him for a go. But it went that close, but it worked out.

Moderator: When did you have trouble with the tires, when did that sort of come in, it was that stint, was it?

Schumacher: I think every time we put on new tires after a couple of laps, when the tires are pretty new, it moves a little bit, and you can't really push that hard because we were marginal on blisters, you have to give the tires a little bit of time to wear down and then we were able to push. And that was the phase, obviously, as well, at the later part before his pit stop when he was going flat-out in good lap times and I was in that struggle. When he came there with new tires and one lap, you can do it, and then two, you get into this phase where Rubens was dropping back.

Moderator: Takumasan, what does this podium mean to you?

Sato: It means a lot to me, not only for me, but also the team. We are working, the staff is working really, really hard. Obviously, the Honda engineers are really looking into what was the problem in the last two races. I'm very pleased sitting here to come back after yesterday's press conference and sitting same position, as it was a really first step. But it's a very, very important result today for us.

Moderator: You had quite a moment with Olivier Panis on the back straight. Talk us through that.

Sato: Yeah, before that, it was -- all 12 of us at the beginning of the start. He had a really good start and passed him into Turn 1. Sooner or later he had a puncture in front of me, probably picked up some debris or whatever after the first into Turn 1, and that is why on the second -- inaudible -- sitting in the middle of the track and as the driver, you have to come through as a first person and just debris everywhere. So I really had to try to avoid everything, and we nearly had to stop the speed. I mean, that is why I couldn't take advantage to having a much fuel on board without two-stop strategy. But after that, yes, I have to fight him back with my position and obviously, the back straight, I thought it was just OK, but then he seems to be functionally coming into me and beginning with the car and I was a little bit surprised. But I had a good battle today, and it was near, and I had a result we wanted, and that's most important thing for today.

Moderator: Did you touch with Olivier?

Sato: No. We never touched the car today.

Moderator: And what about with Jarno at the first corner here?

Sato: It was a bit of a -- the last corner I saw the -- Jarno was a little bit hedged there on the slot into the bank so I was really coming to his slipstream and still there was -- but I didn't see the yellow flag. When I'm driving to go by him just the middle of the straight, I saw the yellow flag just into turn one. But I was sure it was before the yellow flag the move was completely done. At same time the team coming -- inaudible -- just so many over there, and I was a little bit confused, and first I back off, and Jarno is coming like I come back to the neutral into the braking, and the same time, I think one of the cars come in, and I had to brake and couldn't turn in. I lost into the mid-corner, and obviously Jarno was outside, and we both gone off on the grasses. But, we didn't touch, and it was I think just happen in the racing, I think.

Moderator: And then the team was a bit worried that the car was damaged and then something did fly off later on.

Sato: Did we? I don't know. (Laughter). The car was working pretty well. I mean, obviously, the team radioed to me, the pace of the tires, and I just radioed back, and I was totally happy with the cars and balance. Yeah, car working really good and obviously very impressed with the work with Michelin tires. Today we made significant step for the consistency through the race. We never had that much consistency, but it's what we have here today. So I'm very happy.

Q: Michael, the fact that you've won five Grand Prixs here, does it mean more to you than if it had come at any other venue?

Schumacher: Obviously, I'm proud to win any Grand Prix, in all honesty. To win Indy is in a way special because Indy has a lot of reputation and history. Although, we do not race the Indy circuit fully. But still being in front of the crowd which cheered us up quite well, it's great. Just worried for one thing, America has been the country I could go quietly. I hope that remains. (Laughter).

Q: Takuma, on the podium, the crowd was cheering wildly for Michael and Rubens, but also for you. What was it like with the crowd going wild and cheering on for you?

Sato: It was great. We have been supported from the all the fans in United States and America the whole weekend, even walking into restaurants, everybody cheering us, not only for me, but all the drivers. I felt huge energy in Indianapolis as a big dome. When we finished, I mean, obviously we could hear the cheering of the crowd, and on the podium, everybody was happy, and obviously I was happy. It was unbelievable experience today for me.

Q: This is a great result. Obviously is it too soon to think about a win this year or next year?

Sato: Obviously, everybody wants to win and everybody is aiming to be best of the best. You have to be sort of step by step. For me, I was waiting long time to have a result like this, and as I said, this is only the first step but this is an important day today and now we have a car with the tires matching with consistency. And then going back to Europe, it will be challenging. We want to win, I don't know when, but obviously we will try really hard the rest of the season.

Q: Were you aware that your lap times were often faster than the leading Ferrari, and was it frustrating for you to be in heavy traffic from the time after your first pit stop to the end?

Barrichello: It is. I had a car really capable with great lap times, not only for the first lap as historically but also remaining to the, but they came on to the radio every time, great lap, great lap, you are the fastest one, whatever. And one time I think Michael come to the pit after the pit stop, and I was gradually catching. So I knew our pace was right on the pace. But as you said, it was heavy traffic after the pit stop and I have to fight him back. But obviously the racing is very, very exciting whatever the position. Overtaking is a fantastic feeling. I really enjoyed it today.

Q: Today we had a situation where a driver was informed over 90 minutes after a decision to black-flag him. Juan Pablo Montoya, he was black-flagged over 90 minutes after the alleged transgression; so he raced for 90 minutes needlessly. What are your thoughts as director of the GDPA about that?

Schumacher: I don't know it's -- we should have many thoughts on our point of view because there's nothing dangerous in that. It's just a matter to the FIA, I think, to deal with it and to find out when Juan Pablo was aware of it. Usually you are able to jump into the T car. You have to do it before a certain time. As long as you do that, it's no problem to do so.

Q: I'm not questioning the safety of the T car or getting into it. I'm saying it took 90 minutes of needless racing before the driver was black-flagged, and your thoughts from a GDPA point of view about that?

Schumacher: 90 or 19?

Q: 90.

Schumacher: I mean, before I answer that question, I should know all the story rather than just what you tell me. Honestly, I can't give a comment on that right now.

Q: Rubens and Michael, was it unusual today that on this particular circuit we had a lot f incidents that basically happened on the front stretch that required two Safety Cars to come out, I don't believe that any of the other GPs here even needed the Safety Car here yesterday.

Schumacher: Obviously, it's difficult for us to say because we didn't really see what was the cause of the accidents. Racing has a nature of that where accidents are possible to happen, and if the track is blocked then you need a Safety Car to get the marshals out and to clean up the circuit and to have a safety situation for everybody in terms of debris. Imagine if there's an accident, you don't put a Safety Car. That's obviously lethal. I think there was another reason, whether the reasons were acceptable or not acceptable, that's not so clear to say for us.

Barrichello: There's very little to actually say more. The way that the car looks after the first lap, it looked like they tangled and because they were too close they couldn't actually go because it was like one on the top of the other a little bit, so it was difficult to move the car. So nevertheless, I didn't see, as Michael pointed out it's difficult to say. On Ralf, I don't know if he touched with somebody or just was by himself. So it was obviously a lot of debris on the circuit, a lot, a lot. So there was a Safety Car needed, for sure.

Q: Michael, you've had many emotional moments during your Formula One career, bearing in mind what happened in Ralf, was that arguably the lowest you've had to go through?

Schumacher: Well, it's one of the toughest, yes. We had a similar situation in Monza when we had an accidents. Obviously there it was so clear what was happening to him. I was in the garage, the test was basically finished and the last two minutes, I just heard he had an accident. So I went to see him in the medical center, and I was pretty shocked because he wasn't in very good condition at that stage. Naturally, you don't know what was going on seeing, sitting for so long, and knowing Monza, what happened to him, it was a bit of a concern.

Q: Can you explain your thoughts as you were going around underneath the Safety Car and you were still seeing Ralf there, what information were you receiving from the team at that time?

Schumacher: I was constantly in contact with the team. I was just asking questions what it going on, why is he still sitting there. I mean, just being concerned, it was -- he was in a way tough to keep a concentration, and it wasn't needed obviously, running behind the Safety Car. But managing to race normally, it would not have been possible for me very clearly.

Q: At what point did you get the all-clear that Ralf was OK?

Schumacher: Obviously, during the Safety Car phase, I was explained by the team to just be careful, and they said that he was going to get out of the car by himself. They stopped him and just wanted him to be very careful and take extra careful steps. I think it's right to do so, but that was obviously the good message that he wanted to get out himself. By that, I was less concerned.

Q: Will your first thing to be so visit him at the hospital?

Schumacher: That's what you would imagine.

Q: Either Rubens or Michael, third place to most of us looks like just something that happened today was a third-place finish in a race. But can you describe what it means to be finally on a podium, like Takuma was today? Can you remember back what a podium felt like? We know a race victory means a lot, but can you talk about just making the podium for the first time?

Barrichello: For Michael, it will must have been like 10 years ago. For me, it was back in '94 it was a fantastic feeling. It was actually in Japan --

Schumacher: That was 10 years, as well.

Barrichello: Should call my teacher. It was back in Japan, as well. It was a great feeling. It's always a great feeling to finish on the podium. I guess we were quite honored to have him there as the first time because it's pretty special to be up there.

Q: Is that your first time?

Barrichello: It was Mexico in '92. Obviously, in a way, it's probably similar because at the time there was the Williams, and we were unexpected to be quick enough to be even near the podium though we did. And it was probably like Minardi today, scoring a point; for them it's sort of a victory, and it was sort of victory for me at the time. So I can imagine how Takuma must feel today and how excited he is. In a way, we have a car which allows us to be there pretty consistent, and to get there you must put into good effort, and I guess he got a good welcome on the podium, in terms of champagne, as well.

Q: Rubens, from the television camera when you tried to retake the lead from Michael, it appeared that you put one wheel in the grass. Could you tell how close that was and how much of your car was on the edge?

Barrichello: It was very close, did you see? (Laughter).

Schumacher: Was it that close?

Barrichello: Yeah. (Laughter) but, I mean, we are actually joking, but if you weren't expecting, it's fairly difficult to see from the side. I attacked 100 percent there, but at one point, I was not seeing it because we could have done the corner a little bit on the outside and still probably would have managed, but it was very close. I had to go to the grass -- on Turn 4, inside. (Laughter). No, I knew I had a couple times to try because I had the new tires. And it was a bit of flags here and there, there was a bit of oil there, and in a way, I had the chance, I tried, I didn't get it but I think the race was lost before that.

Q: Michael, can you derive the same kind of joy now winning as you did, say, back in '92 when you were as dominant as, this do you still have the same feeling being up there after a race?

Schumacher: Formula One is the ultimate motor racing sport. We are in a position and we can be proud of being on the Ferrari team in a way, and to win with Ferrari is just the best what can happen to you. It was such a great team, and for that success we have to work very hard, and I know each of us we do work very hard. And if you win, you just be excited. I mean, it doesn't matter how long I am there. Each one of them is special and is different in a way, and it's always a big thrill. Today was hard work. Rubens pushed very hard. He was quick all weekend and he wasn't really expecting the win today. I thought I'd have to settle down with eight points today and managing eight gives you the extra pleasure.

Q: Rubens, talk about how Michael has dominated this year.

Barrichello: Well, I think as Michael said, we have a great car, a great team, a great effort, great work. Michael drove especially well at the beginning of the race, better than anybody and he was able to conquer all of the points, and that was really amazing. Having said that, I'm very excited because the last two races were a good show. There were two races, even though I don't like to be playing ifs, ifs, because they are already gone, there are two races that maybe I could have won. So we have a great car, and we are pushing each other very hard, and that is probably putting ourselves in better situation even, so compared to the other teams, because we are putting pressure into each other. But I think we do enjoy the fact that we are fighting. Today I was hoping that I would leave Indianapolis with 14 points compared to him, but I'm leaving 18. It's a great thing that I have 62 points in the championship. Last year in all, the whole championship, I had 65. Still have a chance this year.

Q: Michael, when you look back and see what you have achieved, what both you and Ferrari have achieved and you look at the numbers, did you just sit there and go, darned, that's really impressive what we have been able to accomplish together?

Schumacher: Mostly I'd rather look forward and look forward to what I can achieve rather than -- there will be many years later to look backwards.

Q: Michael, your reaction to Rubens telling you how close that you guys came we was trying to get inside through on Turn 4; now that you it was that close, what's your reaction to that?

Schumacher: Well, it doesn't cause any particular reactions. Obviously, Turn 1 is the ultimate spot to go to for an overtaking. Turn four, I can see that you want to try but you must be obviously really alongside. And if you're not, then it's kind of difficult because the way you can brake into that corner, you kind of brake very deep into the corner. But naturally, it was trying and it's an open fight, and you go for every chance you have.

Q: Michael, were you surprised what you saw the back of Rubens' car so near you when we had the restart of the race?

Schumacher: When I was so close to him? Well, no, I was not surprised because I saw how late we got the information for the Safety Car to get in. There was hardly time to prepare the tires. I sort of anticipated a little bit before I warmed up my tires, maybe a touch better than Rubens did, and that allowed me to get out of the last corner pretty close. And then for that long straight, I was very much aware that I am going to go for a move. I wasn't sure if he was going to go for the right side and I have to try on the left side, but I think with that much overspeed that I had, I would have managed to go right or left due to the amount of slipstream that I had.

Moderator: Thank you very much.

-ims-

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