Sunday August 19th, 2001
You can listen to the TV press conference at http://www.f1press.com
Q: Michael many congratulations. Your seventh win this season, your 51st win overall and your fourth World Championship. How does it feel?
Michael Schumacher: I was talking to the team during the long lap we did, the slow lap we did and as always, trying to find the right words. In such moments, I'm probably not a bad racing driver but I'm quite a bad person finding the right words in such moments, so you have to forgive me. I can't say much more than it has been a beautiful weekend. We did everything we could have done. I came here with not such a good feeling, for whatever reason. I said to Jean 'I'm not sure this weekend is going to be the one when it will happen.' But we got pole position, we got the victory, I obviously equalised the 51 wins with Alain. And I got my fourth championship so, it's a bit too much for me right now to take it all in.
I simply want to say that, it's a great achievement but the way it has been done what makes it so fantastic, because the team around us, Rubens and myself - you can't believe how wonderful the guys are, how much we stick together, in good times, in bad times and particularly in bad times, and sometimes we have them as well. We have such a great crew, such a good team that I'm really in love with all of them and it's so much fun to work with them. It's their achievement and I'm more than thankful to all of them.
Q: How do you feel this championship compares to the other three?
MS: You always ask about comparisons. I don't think it matters actually. I think we want to enjoy this and each one is different and each victory feels different. It's always something special, to win a Grand Prix, to win a championship even more, so that's what counts.
Q: Rubens you must be very proud of your season which has sealed the Constructors' championship for Ferrari.
Rubens Barrichello: I am. I am. I say that I'm having a wonderful season, and it's not because I'm just saying that, I'm really proud to be his team-mate and be part of the party. It think it's a fantastic party, I think it's a fantastic achievement. I don't think it's just coincidence that when I joined the team we won the whole time. It's something that I'm very proud, something that the team deserves and Michael deserves. I'm really really proud to be with them.
Q: Were you firstly surprised to find David ahead of you after the first pit stop, and then to find yourself ahead of him after the second.
RB: To be honest, I had mixed emotions. The first time I was so disappointed and the second time I was so happy, I couldn't believe it myself. I think it was probably the same with DC but just the opposite. Fortunately for me, it worked out. I had a wonderful start. The first set of tyres was a bit difficult to drive on, so he was very close to me. I think he had a better 'in' lap or a better pit stop so he caught me there. And then I was driving really really fast to try and beat him on the second one and I was able to do a really quick 'out' lap and be able to be in front of him, so I'm very happy for that.
Q: David, you tried so hard today to keep the championship alive for another race, but in the end it wasn't to be. Perhaps you can talk us through your race.
David Coulthard: Obviously at the start being on the inside seems to have been a disadvantage because Rubens was able to pass me quite easily and Michael opened up quite a gap going down to turn one. So I knew it was going to be difficult from there on. The fact that I was able to maintain the gap to Rubens made me realise that there was a chance at the pit stop. With the fuel that we were carrying I felt reasonably comfortable that he would have to pit before me. So it was pretty much the opposite of what was Rubens was saying, then obviously in that middle stint I was struggling a little more with the tyres, it wasn't a new set, and I'm not sure at the moment what part of the 'in' lap, the pit stop or the 'out' lap - it wasn't that because he passed me before the first corner - but certainly there was something that cost me the time. In reality second place was the best that could be achieved today and obviously today is about Michael's title, his win and obviously I congratulate him on that achievement, and recommend he takes a holiday for the last four Grands Prix.
Q: There's still a three way battle with Rubens and Ralf Schumacher for second place; how important is it for you to come second?
DC: You know really I don't feel any emotion for finishing second. I only want to win. It makes no difference to me really whether I'm second, third or fourth, whatever it happens to be. What's important is how I perform in each of the individual races and providing I know that I've given 100 per cent effort from myself, which I know isn't always the case, but that's obviously the goal, to try and achieve that, then I can't do more than that. It's not just your individual performance that decides where you finish in the championship.
Q: So Michael, a big party tonight?
MS: Nothing is set up but I'm sure that we will find something, I'm pretty sure. We will see what it will be but it's going to be quite wet.
Q: And will you and Rubens be singing again?
MS: We just had a little warm-up before we came here on the podium, so yes, there will be a lot of singing tonight.
Q: The race seemed to go your way except for the first ten laps, when Rubens was right behind you and then you pulled away.
MS: I guess we were all trying to preserve our tyres for later part of the race and I was probably just lucky that my first set of tyres was working a bit better than his one, because at the end you saw he was coming right back at me again, so this weekend was quite tough, and he was giving me a lot of pressure.
Q: But how easy was it to maintain concentration because you were so much on your own out there?
MS: Yes, it was difficult, honestly. If you have the gap that you have, and at some stage, after the first pit stop, when David got ahead of Rubens and he put in some very fast laps and he was closing the gap, I knew the new tyres would give that for a certain number of laps but I didn't know for how many, because obviously at first he was behind Rubens, so we couldn't see what David's performance was, so it was interesting to see what would happen, but luckily after the three laps he put in, things equalised and I was able to maintain the gap. But being up front for specially the last laps, you obviously think that if you make a mistake you're going to look very stupid, but more so, I was concerned that one of the cars which was out was losing oil consistently, it was always putting a fine line of oil in certain areas on the circuit and I was obviously very concerned that it may catch me out, because you don't know how much he's going to lose, so you change your lines or whatever. So that was a bit worrying, but we're sitting here right now and all that comes now is enjoyment obviously.
Q: In the final stages, Rubens was coming back at you, getting closer and bringing David with him, so what were those last laps like?
MS: To some degree yes, but on the other hand we all know that Hungary is a very difficult place to overtake unless you make a mistake. So in this moment after the second pit stop, obviously I was very happy for Rubens to be in second place, because for his position first of all, for the Constructors' championship it meant that we finished this as well, and having David behind Rubens obviously gives me some kind of cushion so it was the perfect scenario.
I came here with a not so optimistic view for the weekend. I don't know why, I was pretty relaxed all weekend, thinking somehow it wasn't going to happen here, so because of that, I wasn't putting any pressure on myself. Not purposefully, it was just like that. So the last three laps I only started to think 'well, it's supposed to be this weekend.' And that's when you get even more nervous, honestly, when you can make a mistake.
Q: And you really enjoyed your slowing down lap and the rostrum. Tell us about that.
MS: You know I'm probably not a bad racing driver but not so good in words, putting down the emotions for you to write them. I'm sorry, you'll just have to take what I give you as emotions and put it into words, I can't really describe it. I said before, it's not so much emotions, it's simply true feeling which makes it very special, it is the team that we have. It's something that always gives me goose bumps because the guys and everybody in the team are so fantastic, they are so human, they work so hard, they are so determined, it's lovely to work with them. It's something very very special. Of all the experiences I've had throughout the years, this team is simply the best.
Q: Rubens, quite a battle with David during the race - do you feel you were in control.
RB: It's very difficult to overtake in Hungary. There is a chance with backmarkers or if you make a mistake but it's a very, very narrow track and so it's almost impossible to overtake. There was a time I came up behind a Minardi, I think it was Marques, and he was very, very slow. I thought I was going to run on the back of him and for a minute I looked in my mirror and I didn't know where David was and it was a moment that was very - I didn't know if I was in front or not. After the second pit-stop the car was handling really quite well and I was just able to drive my pace and keep in front of him.
Q: And how much pressure were you under?
RB: To be honest it's very hard to be under pressure here in Hungary because the last corner allows you to put the power down and the car behind you has to wait for that, so unless you're talking the '80s where you had turbos and could have 100 horsepower more on the straight or something for a lap then you're not going to see overtaking in Hungary. It's a beautiful circuit, it's very enjoyable to drive round for the qualifying but for the races it's very difficult to overtake so I was in peace to be honest. Within the limits for me not to create any problems to myself and to close the gap to Michael.
Q: With the pit-stops you knew it was going to be marginal.
RB: The first pit-stop I had something to lose. David was behind and I didn't know he was going to do another lap, so it was quite difficult. Then I saw that I lost and he was pushing really hard for the first two or three laps and I couldn't keep up, but then after that I think his tyres started to give up more than mine and I was able to catch him so we were in a good rhythm but I couldn't pass. The second pit-stop I had a fantastic out-lap but I had three cars in front and I was so lucky for I had two of them go right into the pit and I was just praying for the whole race to have that chance.
Q: David, bit disappointed? Very disappointed?
DC: Well I think I drove the maximum today, I clearly didn't have a car that was as quick as the Ferrari, a lot more oversteer, and we almost made it work in the case of Rubens but you can't drive round those sort of problems. The best I could have hoped for was second but we need to try and understand where we lost the time - whether it was my in-lap, or whether it was in the refuelling because I think the nozzle might have been on a bit long - but there was no way obviously to compete with Michael once the start was on and even then I don't know if it would have been possible or not.
Q: What happened at the start?
DC: I was just on the dirty side I think. In the F3000 race you saw all the cars on the left hand side went away and on the green flag lap I listened to Michael and listened to me and it sounded like he stopped using traction control when I was still cutting cylinders, which just means that you're on the dust and dirt. I thought my actual reaction to the lights was good but it was evident that he was just able to accelerate much cleaner and so was Rubens so that was it. Maybe we should start single file in future!
Q: So from a world championship point of view...
DC: I think it's over isn't it?
Q: What are your feelings about it being over?
DC: I think that there's one or two issues about our performance during the year. I'm obviously pleased that personally I've performed at a higher level and that gives me a lot of confidence. And what might have been had we been in a situation where we had a car equal to the Ferrari or the car advantage that we had a couple of years ago. But that isn't the case unfortunately this year and you have to work together as a team to try and create that again. As to the original question, if you want to pick it apart there's no question that Michael deserves the championship and he's been consistently fast, made good use of what he's had and hasn't made any mistakes. I think you can't take that away from him or Ferrari: they've performed and we just go back to the drawing board.
Q: Michael, that was a frightening moment going to the grid, what happened?
MS: Obviously this is the last moment before the race, you can simply check whether the fine tuning is all right and I usually do that and for whatever reason the back end stepped out entering the corner. I could have remained on the circuit using every inch of the kerb, but knowing what has happened to David and Verstappen this weekend I was concerned to do this and preferred to go around the kerb and I used the gravel. It wasn't ideal obviously, there was no damage to the car except a turning vane that we could change on the grid and after that the car was fine.
Q: Michael, when you first came into Formula 1 did you ever think that you could achieve such a great record?
MS: Seriously my first thought about Formula 1, what could be my achievement when I thought about Spa, I was thinking I would be somewhere midfield. That was my kind of target. Certainly I was very surprised where I ended up after qualifying, but there was no kind of indication from me that I would become as successful as I am now.
Q: Michael, your career did overlap with that of Alain Prost: do you have any admiration for him when you came into the sport and have you spoken to him about the equalling of his record of 51 victories.
MS: It's funny, we just had yesterday a chat in the motorhome and he said 'please win that race, I'm so bored all the time of answering that question: when's it going to happen, what do you feel for Michael, blah, blah, blah...' and I said exactly the same so he will be a little bit more happy - so will I - but then he said you have to win another one because now we're equal so you'll probably continue asking the question. All the big names that were in Formula One when I arrived there, they did mean something to me but they were so far away from me that I wasn't trying to think I was going to compete immediately with them. Around the time of Monza, my second race, when I was able to compete with them in the race even, I was thinking 'whoops! It looks better for me than I thought.' So, what he has achieved - certainly I admire what he has done and obviously I'm happy for myself that I have been able to do somehow the same.
Q: Michael, what kind of challenges can you find for the rest of the season?
MS: To keep winning races. I said after last season, particularly after winning the championship that the aim is to win as many races as I can. I feel that despite winning the championship it's a new challenge and next race if I make mistakes you will not say what a wonderful race I have done in Hungary, you will pick out me and say 'what a stupid mistake you have done'. Formula One - and sport in general - is like that and so I feel every race is a new challenge for me, and I like to compete and I feel the competition is what makes Formula One so special. And I feel there is enough fire in me which keeps me pushing for quite a while.
Q: Michael, in your opinion why are there still people who do not consider you to be among the greatest drivers in the sport?
MS: When you go to a kind of voting for a politician you're going to get 50% for one person or one party and 50% for another. That's the difference in opinion human beings have, simple as this and I think everybody should have. I have mixed opinion about certain people and so do they have to me and that's pretty normal, it's what the world's about.
Q: Michael, this year it's seemed pretty easy - does that mean it's less satisfactory than in previous years?
MS: Not at all. I mean, I think David was putting on something which is quite right: considering all the disasters he has had this year where he could have won races the championship would not be over probably until the end, so there is no feeling at all that the fight is worth less because I won it earlier, the fight was always tight except the first two races: after that there was always a big fight going.
Q: Do you think you can beat the record of the great Juan Manuel Fangio?
MS: You know it's not really a target and I don't think it's really a fair comparison anyway because what this man has done in the times when it was Formula One I think is outstanding. All we are doing in comparison is pretty small, if you see the safety and the cars from the old days it's something unbelievable to imagine to race this fast. I couldn't, and I think it is not fair to compare at all.
Q: Michael, you got a boost when Rubens helped you in Austria - can we expect that you might help him in one of the races?
MS: Wait and see. No, honestly before I mentioned the team and Rubens is a very important part of the team and as he said before it's not by luck that since he arrived in the team we won two championships. So he has contributed to that quite a big time, I mean when he goes testing I can relax with my children, my family, because he is doing the job well. That's the way we work, and all together we have moved up to the step we are at now. And to some degree if I can help him be sure I do, because that's the way the teamwork has to be.
RB: Luckily my wife is pregnant, I can have a peaceful time as well!
Q: Michael when you arrived in 1991 had you ever raced or tested on the Spa track before?
MS: No, I mean it's pretty well known that people thought I had raced there in sports cars and that's what my manager told to Eddie Jordan at the time just to get me the drive! But that wasn't quite true - I had two laps experience before with a bicycle!
Q: David, do you feel any less motivation now towards the last four races of the year?
DC: No not really. At this moment in time I feel pretty shitty because I'm a bit dehydrated so I just want this to be over so I can go and lie down. Maybe I should excuse myself and Michael can just keep enjoying the moment, but no - I want to win Grands Prix. That's the motivation and why we push ourselves.
Published at 16:28:48 GMT