The F399 launch - interview with Michael Schumacher
The F399 launch - interview with Michael Schumacher
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Saturday January 30th, 1999

Michael Schumacher, after losing the championship two years in succession, is it easier or more difficult to motivate yourself this year?
MS: No. It's very easy. I remember many conversations with our team representatives last year, and from the beginning the main problem was with the tyres. We had to deal with that problem as well as we could. Having said that, Goodyear did a great job for us after the first five races in order to bring us back on the right track. Now we don't have that question mark. We all compete on the same tyres. We did a lot of development and it makes me very motivated that we can do it.

Do you think that the lack of tyre competition will make a big difference to the finishing order this year, or will it be pretty much the same thing?
Schuey and the Ferrari crew wait for the F399 to be unveiledMS: It shouldn't be too different to be honest. You will have the two top teams at the front and the same teams chasing, but things will be closer this year, because you don't have the big gap of tyres. The rules are in place for the second year. Everyone knows what they have to do to their cars. But still, it's going to be the same two cars and after that, I don't know: probably Williams, Jordan, Sauber and Benetton, so the usual teams.

What do you think of the new grooves in the tyres to slow the cars down?
MS: I think they will decrease our overtaking opportunities. That's a fact. They make the car slower, it slides more and has less grip. The tyres are harder and that's why it's more difficult to overtake, because you reduced the grip of the car and you increase the grip from the aerodynamic side. For sure, you will see overtaking, but it won't be the same as before. I'm not sure how much Bridgestone are interested in developing the tyres. Why should they? They could improve lap times by a couple of seconds, but they don't want to. The FIA wants to reduce speed, and as there is only one tyre manufacturer, it's easy to control. I would like to improve it because I like to corner fast, that's what makes Formula One interesting. I don't see it as a safety aspect, but sliding around corners doesn't really excite me.

What would a third World Championship mean to you?
MS: It's not about a third World Championship. It's more about being in Ferrari and doing it with Ferrari. That means a lot. They haven't won it for 20 years. We've been very close twice. There are a lot of reasons why it would be a very special championship, not just because it's a third one.

Do you think you can win the championship?
MS: We have a 50-50 chance and it's a sport. We will try our best. This year I feel we have good reasons to be motivated from the start. There are no question marks over tyres, good development work both aerodyanamically and mechanically. Unless someone comes up with something totally new that we haven't thought about, I can see us out front, not on our own but obviously close.

What did you think of last year's peformance?
MS: The amount of development that we did during the year - to be as far behind as we were at the beginning of the season - which allowed us to fight for the championship at the end was a great achievement.

Is less testing better?
MS: If you do too much of anything it's no fun. And last year was marginal, just on the limit and sometimes a little bit over. I welcome the fact that we don't have so much tyre development even though Eddie and I split it. Without tyre development, testing will be almost certainly less. But the rule has been changed again, as I understand it, so it won't have changed much in comparison to last year.

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