Sunday September 10th, 2000
You can listen to the press conference at http://www.f1press.com
Q. Congratulations, Michael. This is your sixth win of the season, even though the last of them was six races ago. You have done it in front of your home fans and you must be delighted ...
Michael Schumacher: Yes, but 'delighted' is the wrong word. I have no vocabulary for anything than that. I am just happy. I am just exhausted ...
Q. You may not be aware that this is your 41st victory, which puts you in second place, with Ayrton Senna, in the list of all-time winners. Do these records mean a lot to you?
MS: Yes, it does mean a lot to me ... (MS bows head and appears to be overcome with emotion)
Q. Mika, over the last two races, Michael has had the magnanimity to admit that the McLaren was the faster car on the day. Do you think that the Ferrari was the faster car today?
Mika Hakkinen: Can we have a break? (Hakkinen also appears to be emotional) Go to Ralf, please. Ralf can continue.
Q. Ralf, you alone among the top three finishers saw the big incident at the second chicane. Can you talk us through it and perhaps tell us how you managed to avoid it?
Ralf Schumacher: I just saw a lot of dust and car parts flying around. Jacques and I managed somehow to get around it, but it looked really terrible. Someone was hurt, as we saw, but I don't know who it was.
Q. As the race progressed and you were passed by Ricardo Zonta and Jos Verstappen, were you tempted to think you had made a mistake in your choice of strategy?
RS: We always knew that some of the others were on a lighter-weight [low fuel] strategy, but at Monza it's the ones on the longer [range] strategy who usually have the upper hand. We were quicker than Verstappen at the end of the day, and I knew that we could be quicker than Zonta. So I didn't worry too much.
Q. Back to Mika now, and thank you for your perseverance gentlemen. This is live television. As I asked before, do you think on the day, today, that the Ferrari was a faster car than the McLaren?
MH: A little bit, yes. Not much, but enough.
Q. After your single pit stop, and despite the fact that you appeared very unlikely to be able to catch Michael, you put in a series of very fast laps, including fastest lap of all. Why was that?
MH: Well, we had made some modifications to the car during the pitstop, and it made the balance of the car better. But it was obviously not enough, and the gap to Michael was too much. It was impossible to catch him, and the backmarkers [made it even more difficult]. There were a couple of Minardis who were quite a pain: they wouldn't let me overtake very easily and I lost two or three seconds because of that. But at the end of the day that is not an excuse. I believe that Michael had no reason to push any more, so ...
Q. Michael, this is clearly an emotional moment for you. Are you able to tell us why it means so much?
MS: Ask me another question, please.
Q. Michael, congratulations. Ten laps behind the Safety Car must be longer than any driver has done for a few years. What was the effect on your car of running at those low speeds?
MS: After such a long period behind the Safety Car, the tyre pressures and temperatures were obviously very low. Other than that, there was no big effect.
Q. Your start today certainly seemed good enough. Do you agree?
MS: Yes. It was on the edge. It was just alright. I dropped the revs for a moment, but it was enough for me to stay in front. [Just as the Safety Car was going to pull off], because everything was so low in temperature, the brakes and everything, I was going to warm up my brakes. After the leader switches off the lights, the leader [may] dictate the gap of the safety car, and I was going to do so. I was accelerating/braking, accelerating/braking, to warm up my brakes. I think [I may have made] a mistake the way I did it, because some drivers were thinking we would start the race already and I was going to go flat out. But I started braking again and naturally all the cars behind started braking, but probably saw it a little bit too late. I'm sorry for whoever suffered from that. I thought that everybody knew what I was going to do, but obviously if you are at the back there are so many cars that [their drivers are] struggling to see what I am really intending to do. So, whoever suffered from that, I'm sorry.
Q. It was suggested that whoever went longest in this race would win it.
MS: This is true when cars are close to each other, then that will be automatically the case, but as I was 10 seconds in the lead, it's normal that only two laps don't make a difference.
Q. Any problems, we saw you get sideways in the first corner.
MS: Yeah, but out of 50 something laps, to have a moment in the first chicane, I think that's pretty much all right.
Q. No problems with brakes or tyres?
MS: No, but we didn't expect any problems. On all the parameters we were on the safe side and there was not reason to be worried. We just wanted to be careful in the end about the engine in particular because this is a hard circuit for the engine, and if you don't need to push you just use lower rpm and you just cruise around to finish the race.
Q. Mika, once again you had a good start and you got ahead of Rubens ...
MH: It was OK. I was behind Michael and thinking about overtaking him on the inside, and he moved to the inside, so [then] I moved back, outside the normal line. He moved also, but ... anyway, that's the way it went. And I ended up 2nd in the first corner.
Q. After that, Michael seemed to pull away. Were you in trouble?
MH: You could say I was in trouble, because I did not have the balance that I wanted to have in the car and that is why I was losing lap time.
Q. It was just a balance problem, then? Did you have any problems with tyres or brakes?
MH: Technically, everything was running fine. I had no problems with anything. It was just that the balance of the car [did not allow] me to follow Michael at the speed he was going.
Q. Can you explain why this win means so much to you?
MS: It's obvious why. We are here in Italy. We obviously were in some difficulty in the last races where we haven't been as competitive as we wished to be for whatever reason, and we are back on the road which I think we showed very obvious overall weekend. It's my 41st victory, and the crowd outside just has been amazing. I mean, it's much more than it has been in '98, and it's, I don't know why, but it's simply a lot more, it came a lot more close to me, and it's different. It's difficult to put into words.
Q. Is it a relief that you are back at the front again?
MS: For sure, although I am not at the front. I'm two points behind but now, obviously, we are back on the road for victories. It is a certain relief.
Q. Was your emotional response anything to do with Senna?
MS: I think at certain moments not all questions you care [to put] or which you would like to be answered will be answered. I don't like to go into the detail of this question.
Q. Can you keep this up at Indy, on a circuit which is very different from this one?
MS: I don't see why we should have a particular circuit issue. That is what I felt before. We have not been able to prove [ourselves] before at Spa, and in the races before that, very much, but I believe for the rest of the season we should be set to fight for further victories. Whether we achieve them or not is another question, but whether it's at Indy or other circuits, I don't care honestly. We all have the same time available to get used to the Indy circuit. I never had problems myself to get used to any circuit in the past. And I don't expect that to be changed in Indy.
Q. Mika, are you confident about being able to learn the Indianapolis circuit in just a couple of sessions of practice?
MH: I don't know. The next race is going to be very difficult for everybody to find the right set-up for the car, and find the right gear ratios and downforce, the right balance and the correct lines on the track. It's going to be a little bit of a gamble. The next Grand Prix is going to be very difficult. Japan is a track I know, so I believe that our competitiveness should be good over there. And we were quite quick in Malaysia also, so I think it's going to be very interesting.