US GP Winners' press conference

1. Michael Schumacher 2. Rubens Barrichello 3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Q: Your winner of this SAP United States Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello second place, Heinz-Harald Frentzen third. Well done, Michael. I hope you've readjusted...

1. Michael Schumacher
2. Rubens Barrichello
3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen

Q: Your winner of this SAP United States Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello second place, Heinz-Harald Frentzen third. Well done, Michael. I hope you've readjusted your air ticket for about Tuesday. I should think they might let you leave by about then. They're giving you such a reception here.

Michael Schumacher: Yeah, it's true. I'm luckily here with my own aircraft, so I can decide when I want to go.

Q: Fantastic victory. What are the feelings now eight points in the lead with two races to go? Can you allow yourself a little --

MS: Naturally, you know how nice a result it is for me. That means honestly I can finish twice second and still be winning the championship as I have more wins on my account compared to Mika can have physically. But, I mean, first of all you have to be twice second and I'd rather win the next race first, honestly, and not rely on the strategy just trying to be second or anything; because I believe we still -- we know what can happen. Basically, you can have a retirement like Mika had today quite easily and things will turn around. So we really have to keep concentration. I don't think any of us really believe it's done yet. Whoever does this, make sure or I'm sure that I will readjust to be not thinking that way because it's not really over yet.

Q: What about the start? It was interesting looking down because I was up on the ninth floor looking down at the front row of the grid and you moved forward just a fraction and then stopped. I mean it was a fraction.

MS: Yeah, you're allowed to move as long as you stop again and then you're allowed, I think, maybe the centimeters I moved. And you just sit there and you try to be ready. So it sometimes can happen that this happens. I just saw the replay of it and it was pretty obvious that my colleague was a little bit more than a couple of centimeters. But that's -- I mean that's sometimes possible that it happens. I mean, everything is so tight and you rely maybe sometimes on the lights to go out and they don't go out; and off you go.

Q: What about the conditions during those early laps?

MS: It was a strange condition, different to Spa. The circuit took a long time to dry out and that meant that you had to stay out with your rain tires fairly long with having quite a big part of the circuit almost dry, which meant that you got blisters on your tires. But then the infield was still so wet that, as you saw with Rubens going out so early with dry tires, you were too slow. So we were just waiting for the situation when it was right. I knew that this happened, so I took it very easy in the beginning not to destroy my tires too early. That was, I think, my big key for the result in the end because even though Hakkinen stopped anyway, we were in front. With the strategies we applied, I think we could have stayed there.

Q: Was that your decision to stay out or was it a decision based on lap time?

MS: Basically based on lap time, yes.

Q: So when you came down to about one minute 22 or something, it was time to --

MS: I think there was a point, I think, when Button was out on slicks and he was doing faster time than I was doing; but, obviously, I was battling with David who really slowed me down a lot to give Mika a run at me, as I guess he knew he was going for a stop-and-go. In this moment they asked me whether it made sense to come in. I said it's not really the time. In the end it was then about lap time.

Q: Now, I think when you were talking in German, you thanked the team very much for the work over the last month. Has that work really made a huge difference for the last couple of races and does it continue even though the cars aren't even going back to Maranello?

MS: It's good that you make this point because, I mean, it's probably natural reaction. I thanked the team to keep pushing as hard as they do. But naturally you would now think we haven't pushed another time before, which is obviously not true. I mean you all know why we have not been so successful in a couple of races and at the end of the day it is down to concentration and just use all your possibilities and maximize your opportunities. And we haven't been so successful obviously during Hungary and Spa, but we have been very successful in Monza and here. So that's why -- that comes, obviously, down to testing, to preparation and all this, which we have done before but probably not as good as we've done it now.

Q: And does the testing continue even though the cars don't go out to Maranello?

MS: No, no. I'm going back to Europe and I will test most likely Thursday, Friday. We start already on Tuesday with our test driver Luca who has done a great job for us this year; he has done many tests. We will even test between Japan and Malaysia.

Q: Michael, thank you. Well done. Rubens, if I can come to you. Tremendous atmosphere out there. I saw quite a few Brazilian flags as well. RB: Yeah, it was great. I think this GP was really well done. I think the track is tremendous the way it is. I mean, I saw so many overtaking on the turn 13. I mean, it's great fun. So I think it's great. I mean, it's closer to Brazil probably, so a lot of Brazilians live close by. There was a lot of Brazilians here, which was quite nice.

Q: You had quite a battle, particularly with Jacques but also obviously with Heinz-Harald as well. Quite a busy time out there.

Rubens Barrichello: Yeah, it was. I chose to come in a little bit too early and I paid the price because I was behind a lot of people. And, you know, the Arrows and the Jaguar, they were coming very fast on the straight. I don't know how much fuel they had but they were coming really fast and I couldn't do a thing to hold them at that time. But I knew I was going quite long and I knew I had to save a bit of the tires. I had to keep with them and push as hard as I could. At that time I wasn't really fast on the straight. I just had to try to do my best. When Heinz-Harald came into the pits, it was my chance to really go flat out and that's where I come second again.

Q: A bit of a moment when Jacques spun as well?

RB: Yeah, I didn't know which way the car was going and he kept on the throttle. I really had to go wide because I just thought I would hit him. And he was -- one corner before, Ross came on the radio saying, "Coulthard is coming very fast behind you. Is there a way to get by Villeneuve?" And then he spun in front of me. I said, "Is that enough?" And it was actually quite funny at that time.

Q: Then it seemed that the second pit stop you actually stayed out longer -- when Heinz-Harald came in, you decided to stay out longer; is that true?

RB: Well, when I came in quite early they put a lot of fuel, so basically I used the whole fuel in the car for a very long stop basically. It was a two-stop due to the fact that we start on wet. But I stayed quite long; and to be honest, I was praying that he would come to the pits because it was quite difficult to overtake his car. It was quite fast on the straight, as he said. He chose to go fast on the straight and he was struggling a little bit on the infield, but there was no way to overtake him there. So I was praying that he could come to the pits. When I saw him going, I saw my chance.

Q: And stayed out about three or four laps longer?

RB: Yeah. Yeah, and I had no traffic and it was the chance to do it.

Q: That was the crucial moment?

RB: Yeah, those three laps were where the car was working fantastically and I pushed as hard as I could.

Q: Rubens, thank you. Heinz-Harald, I think after the last few races, particularly the last race, a certain amount of relief to be on the rostrum?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: It certainly has been a long time, to be honest. I mean, this is the first time when we are on the rostrum this year. Brazil doesn't count in this respect for the points, but it is a big relief for us as well. The team is also working flat out trying to achieve its best, their best; and we had quite a difficult season for the expectations. We were really fighting each time again to come back to our rhythm. And everything -- anything went wrong, different problems, reliability, things like that. So I'm happy that now we got the chance here to make some points on the podium and keep going now.

Q: Again, it was useful for you to stay out quite long during the first section of the race and not come in too early. Was that your decision or whose was that?

HHF: We had a conversation when Rubens was behind me and we were facing traffic. I think that was the second stop, by the way. But anyway, Rubens was telling that he was hoping that I was pitting before him. And so I did, but I did it because we were facing traffic. We had a couple of guys in front of us and I went into the pits. I decided to come into the pits. I had still fuel, enough to do a couple of laps. So my question to Rubens, obviously, would be that where is the traffic? I mean, it must have been going into pits as well when I went into the pits because we made the decision, therefore.

RB: One went off to the pits and the other one helped me with a tow. It was lucky actually.

HHF: So it went well for him, and okay. I was struggling in the infield of the track. I was quite competitive on the straight, pretty fast on the straight. We took the downforce off, but I was really struggling in the infield. In the end, Jacques was coming up very quickly as well and I had really no moment to relax. I had to go flat out until the end of the race. I have to say I had to push really, squeeze every tenth out of the car.

Q: Well done. You had the, as Nick said in the unilaterals, you were battling about all the time with somebody. Particularly, with Rubens or Jacques as well. Was that fairly close with Jacques?

HHF: Yes, it was. I had to make sure I made the last bit of the track and the last corner properly because even on low downforce level, the guy behind you has got a chance to go into your tow and come close enough. But the overtaking maneuver from Jacques was, I think, pretty -- too much optimistic in this respect. He just went for it. He said all or nothing, probably; and he went for it and had really no chance to make that corner, the first turn. So he spun off or he went over the grass, whatever. I thought I have got now free time but he was keeping pushing and coming up again, so he was pretty fast at the end and I had really no time to relax.

Q: What have been your impressions overall now of the Grand Prix here?

HHF: Well, I have to say I've never seen inside the car, from inside the car so many people around the track. You have -- it's quite an incredible view when you go into this bank here and see all the people and not even only on the left-hand side, but on the right-hand side. It's a very impressive racetrack for that. Also, I think that the spectators have enjoyed the race here and it was probably a very exciting race with all the circumstances today; and I think all drivers are very happy with that.

Q: Indeed. Thank you. Some questions from the floor?

Q: Michael, there was a period when Mika edged closer and closer to you. How concerned were you?

MS: I mean, I don't know what kind of strategy he was on at this moment. I knew we were very heavy in this moment. I knew I was fast enough on the straight because I saw that before. So even though he would have come close to me maybe, I don't think he would have really had a chance to overtake me; but we'll never find out.

Q: Michael, for as well as everything went all weekend with this event, do you feel that what you did today has some historical significance?

MS: I don't think it's up to me to judge that. It's probably you who will judge that. I mean, I don't have really a good reference compared to other events that have happened here. And for us, our own event, I mean it's our first time here, so you really must see that over a bit of time. But looking at the reaction of the spectators, it has been magnificent up in the podium. I mean, you see just people everywhere in front of you and they seem to be really satisfied.

Q: Michael, were you shocked when Mika came in for dry tires to pit?

MS: For his dry tires?

Q: Yeah.

MS: I actually -- I mean, I didn't know exactly when he came in because he wasn't really second. I mean it was David being second. And the exact moment, I didn't know. One moment I saw my brother being behind me and then, obviously, I asked, "What has happened, where is Mika?" I found out he went for dries. Then we watched the times he was doing and so on, but I wasn't shocked or surprised because he was rather slow on his rain tires. So he had no option.

Q: Michael, would you talk about your spin? Was it the curb that caused it and it caught you off guard?

MS: It wasn't the curb itself, I was really a bit too far inside and I touched the grass. Honestly, I wasn't going really flat out. I was really cruising and just make sure nothing goes wrong; and you lose a bit of concentration. I mean, you just drive around like you do with the road car and in this moment when it went, I wasn't prepared to catch it and it went. I was obviously a little bit concerned for that; but some people asked me to make a bit of a show this weekend. I hope that was good enough.

Q: Michael, could you make some comments on your set-up, especially on the last wing changes on the grid on the back? On the rear wing.

MS: Obviously, we had mixed conditions and we weren't sure what it's looking like outside. In the end we decided to go for a set-up which we thought was appropriate for the conditions after I had been out and saw everything.

Q: It was for the dry?

MS: It was different to the one before. It was more for dry, yes. I mean, it was clear for us. The weather forecast was more for dry than for rain. We went more to the dry side, yes.

Q: Heinz-Harald, you said this was a very competitive race for you, lots of to-ing and fro-ing with the competition. From a career standpoint, would you say this is one of the best drives of your career? Does this rank up there with your race victories and other events that you've had?

HHF: Well, it was certainly one of my toughest races. I mean sometimes you fight like hell and you finish just away from the points. But certainly on the long straight here you have a lot of time to think about it and certainly I knew I was in second position at some stage and I was in third position; and I knew it was very important for us to finish here as high as possible. Also, in the constructors' championship. So I had really some pressure from behind and not only from Rubens, also from Jacques; and so I had to really go for it. They were pushing me like hell, you could say. They were waiting for any single mistake I was doing. So I had really no time to relax. And I have finished much nicer races, yes, and also in a good position like third or on the podium, which wasn't that much hard work.

Q: Michael, have you thought yet about now surpassing Ayrton Senna's career total for victories?

MS: Have I what? Sorry.

Q: Have you thought about with this victory, having passed Senna's total for career wins.

MS: Yes, obviously I am aware of this situation. To some degree I'm glad I'm able to do this. But all of us know that he had to stop his career earlier than he wanted and we never find out how many races he would have won. So I don't think it's a fair comparison to look at this.

Q: Michael, is it possible for you to isolate any one aspect of the car that gave you an advantage or your best advantage, be it braking, cornering, stability in the draft and specifically relevant to this particular racetrack?

MS: You can't make it up to one point. It's always a combination of many things. I mean we have 3,000 parts on a car in the end of the day. We have, I don't know how many you can adjust actually. You have to just feed it together like a little puzzle and in the end you either have a good one or not so good one. You're missing some parts or you don't. Today I'd say, like in Monza again, we had quite a good combination of things. You always live with some sort of compromises. But what would have been the reality, I don't know, because Hakkinen retired early. So we don't know what kind of strategy he was on and what was our speed relative to them in this moment. So I can't really pinpoint one point which really was the key for the success.

Q: Michael, on the topic of a show, usually in the States we do our victory doughnuts after the checker; but did you have any other problems in the race, any difficult moments?

MS: No. Luckily not, no. That was enough. Only with Coulthard in the first corner with the overtaking, that was maybe the other little tweaky issue.

Q: Rubens, you spoke about the strategy for your second pit stop. What about the first pit stop when you came in for dry tires, was that also determined by lap times or did you make that decision?

RB: Well, I had the balance of the car deteriorating quite quickly. The track was drying out and I had more and more oversteer. The car was getting loose the whole time; and at that time I just thought that the slicks would be the way. And, of course, I forgot at that time that Bridgestone brought a very hard compound to cope with the banking and I just realized when I went out again that, you know, it was quite difficult.So I was losing three seconds to my time. When I came in I was doing 24s and I went out doing 27s, which was too bad. But I took the decision and, you know, the team allowed me to do and I was lucky that they put a lot of fuel in the car and I could do ten laps, get the temperature on the tire and concentrate again on finishing as high as I could. I mean, I knew Michael was in front and when I saw Mika stopping I had to push as hard as I could to help the team finish one-two, another 16 points. I think, you know, the best thing this year would be for Michael to win the championship and for us to finish first in the constructors'. So I have to help them.

Q: Michael, you said you lost concentration. What were you thinking about at that particular time? Or would you rather not say? It's up to you.

MS: I'd rather not say, yeah.

Q: Then when you're going well, you had as much as a 40-second lead at one time, what are you really focusing on when you're really that far ahead? What are your strategies?

MS: Just bring the car home, drive careful, not to stress it. I mean, although the cars are prepared to do so, I mean these are not road cars which have, I mean, years of development; these are prototypes and you never know what can happen like you saw with Hakkinen today. We have had this earlier this year. So you just want to make sure that you don't use the car to the maximum extent and bring it home. And you start to talk to your car.

Q: What do you say to it?

MS: Think about it. I mean, naturally you talk in a way that it understands that you want to finish the race.

Q: It's not like "Nightrider," is it? Doesn't talk back to you, does it?

MS: I mean, luckily it didn't talk back to me because that's a bad sign.

Q: For all three guys: The front straightaway was real dry. After your warm-up lap, was it a real conscious -- was it back and forth whether to go with wets or dries or was it no question at all?

MS: No, it was clear that we had to be -- from my point of view, it was clear to be on wets initially. But we -- nobody knew of us, obviously, how long it would be.

Q: Michael, he said for all three. He wanted to hear this from all three.

HHF: It was pretty hard at the start because the start line was totally dry. All the banking and main straight was dry. But we have got different surfaces, tarmac on the infield of the circuit and, obviously, it looks like it takes more time to dry out there. But it was impossible. Even after ten laps, I mean the infield was still too wet for running dry tires.

RB: The same answer basically. I think the asphalt that you have here for the oval -- I've been here before and I've seen them hoovering and probably that helps to dry it out, you know. The asphalt is quite abrasive. So it's quite funny because, you know, Emerson Fittipaldi was on the grid saying, "You're going to start on wets? Are you crazy?" Because it was so dry there. I mean on the infield it was so wet. Fortunately I did.

Q: Michael, you talked about some tricky issues with David Coulthard and in the unilaterals you said that maybe he defended his position maybe a little bit too strongly. Do you want to reconsider that answer or say a little bit more about it? Particularly with regard to your own tactics in Malaysia last year.

MS: I think there's a difference. And I mentioned that David did hold me up in the infield, which I thought that's natural that he do this because he's working for McLaren, not for Ferrari; and he's in the lead, so he can go as slow as he thinks he should do. But then on the other side, I passed him through the outside in turn one. I was basically by and I go really, really wide to make sure that he cannot touch me at all and I would say that he didn't take the tightest line to avoid me touching, I think. He ran in a way that he thought it could happen, and he didn't try to avoid that, that's pretty simple. As he is not fighting for the championship, and I have been really trying to do this, I don't know what's his thought, whether the situation was actually different to the way I see it, whether he couldn't go a tighter line. Maybe that is actually the case because the problem now with seeing it from my view, it's pretty difficult because I sit in the car. I don't have the total view as you guys have. So I could see something developing again like in the past and I don't think that's the point to do this. I just want to make sure that we don't see teammates helping the drivers fighting for the championship in the way which is not appropriate. Slowing down, fine. Driving into someone, I think that should not be the case because you can imagine how that could develop and we don't want to see that. I just want to make sure that he didn't try to do this. If that is not the case, then that's fine for me.

Q: Michael, but do you think it was fair to slow you even if he knew he had yet to stop for the penalty?

MS: He's in the lead. You could ask the question, is it correct to keep somebody out that long even if you be sure he has done a jump start? I don't know the system, whether it takes so long to actually understand it has happened. But usually you should say if you know somebody has done something wrong against a rule, and there is such a penalty, it should be done immediately so it can't influence really other people's result. And we were quite sure he had to come in, but I think it took about 15 laps; is that correct?

Q: I don't know.

MS: That is rather long.

Q: Eight laps.

MS: Eight laps? Yeah, but as I say, I have no idea what is the system for the FIA, how long it takes them actually to be sure to find out that it has happened. So it's difficult to answer for me.

Q: Michael, you're sitting in a chair right now that's been occupied by people such as Foyt, the Unsers, Fittipaldi, more recently Jeff Gordon and others. What does it mean to you to kind of share a common bond with people like that, to kind of share the same stage?

MS: It's great. I mean, but I would wonder whether it is actually that chair because that is coming with us, I guess. That's from Formula One. I know it quite well. Anyway, the point is being here on the podium and the first Formula One driver winning the race in the States since ten years and sharing all that, it means quite a lot to me, yeah. I was going around the last couple of laps and thinking about that, that I am in the books after ten years or here in Indy is the first time I will be the winner of that race; and that is quite impressive.

Q: We saw quite a number of overtaking maneuver attempts on the outside line of the first corner, most of which was successful, including yours. Is it because the second corner is a left-hander and you took a more favorable line or do you have to go for it in a way which is not conventional so to say?

MS: I overtook in the first corner, yeah?

Q: Yeah.

MS: Yeah. And what is the question? Naturally, David didn't like me to overtake him on the inside line, so he went over completely to the right, which is fair; and for me it was open to try it on the outside, which I did and it worked out. But that's the common practice, that drivers can once defend the line, go over; and in the end, if you're faster and you want to overtake, you have to try through the outside.

Q: Michael, anything you'd like to see change on the track in the future?

MS: No.

Q: This question is for all three. It's kind of similar. Do you think this is destined to be a classic on the calendar or does the infield need to be extended next year as they're suggesting might happen? For all three guys.

MS: I wouldn't think so. I think we found here quite an interesting race circuit, very tricky. No, there is no particular point which I would really change. You could argue the point that the philosophy of Formula One is that we should have a slow corner, a long straight and a slow corner to see more overtaking. Turn 11 is maybe not the slowest corner you could have like a turn 10, if you have this and go for a long, long straight, then you can go slipstreaming. This is maybe a question mark whether people would want to do this or not. But from the layout of the circuit itself, driving it normal without the aspect of overtaking, nothing is wrong with it.

RB: I thought it was quite good. The track I thought was just great, everything we have here. I'd love to come for this Grand Prix and one more in the west, no problem. I have to organize one more. Two a year.

Q: Heinz-Harald?

MS: With a break of four weeks.

HHF: Well, I think this combined track here of a twisty infield and long straight is unique in Formula One. The idea is as well having Formula One in the States and Indy, but as everybody knows, our Formula One car does not suit an oval racing. And I think they have made a perfect solution and combined solution for everything.

Q: Heinz-Harald --

MS: Should be something to see some IndyCars actually running this circuit, eh?

Q: You want to run the oval? We would love to see all three of you run the oval.

MS: I'm saying the IndyCar using the same circuit we did. That would be nice to see, have a race here like that.

Q: For Heinz-Harald. Nice to see you back on the rostrum. Two things: What did you change from your qualifying setup? And two, practice and qualifying is one thing. What did turn one look like at the start of the race?

HHF: Turn one? First of all, I didn't make many changes on the car, but as we talked before about it, I had to run a little bit less downforce. We just run smaller openings than in qualifying basically in order to be quick on the straight. And regarding first corner, I think is not -- well, it's tight but it's quite quick still. It's a second-, third-gear corner. I wouldn't put so much effort in explanation in it. I think the whole combination of the track, the design of the track, that is different and you have to see it in all and comprehensively. That is a very interesting track for racing.

-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Ayrton Senna , Emerson Fittipaldi
Teams Ferrari , McLaren