Atlas F1 News Service

Post-Qualifying Press Conference - European GP

Saturday June 23rd, 2001

You can listen to the TV press conference at

Q: Michael, are you surprised that while Ferrari are able to keep pace with the excellent pace of BMW but McLaren seem to be suffering so badly?

Michael Schumacher: We have seen them struggling in qualifying often this year and then being competitive in the race, so I wouldn't be surprised if they were competitive in the race again tomorrow, because it seems to be a different issue for them. For us, it's pretty even, but I don't write them off until the end of the race, I must say.

Q: Ralf, you've been going better each day so far - how has the change in weather helped?

Ralf Schumacher: The warmer, the Michelin, and that's what we are going to be waiting for tomorrow. We saw this in the two practices that we had this morning. One lap is always good for us, but then the performance seems to drop off quite dramatically, whereas the Bridgestone runners seem to be able to keep their performance. It's going to be interesting

Q: Juan Pablo, congratulations, third place. It's pretty obvious that these two guys are going to be very careful at the first corner. Is that a chance for you to get past both of them?

Juan Pablo Montoya: No, not really. I think I had a pretty good qualifying, it wasn't the best of all. We did a couple of changes at the end of the session for the car and they didn't really pay off, but we had to try. I'm very pleased. The car is working well. We've had a pretty good day today; I'll try to get to the end tomorrow, for a change. I've had about eight non-finishes, and two of them have been my fault, so not really.

Q: Michael - McLaren very quick yesterday, Williams quick this morning, were you always confident that you could be sitting where you are this afternoon?

MS: No. I was confident against what I saw yesterday. Many journalists asked me and seemed to raise concerning questions about our performance yesterday, but I wasn't at all. And so it proved that when I saw the times this morning developing so fast I wasn't thinking that we could reach pole.

Q: So where does it come from?

MS: Basically, we haven't had the chance this morning to run new tyres. We were going to go faster. We developed the car very nicely this morning but then we had to stop because of the hydraulic problem. So we seemed to have achieved much more than we thought but not using new tyres didn't show us where we really were. Looking at Rubens' time - I think he did a 1m 15.8s this morning, half a second behind, normally our gap is about two or three, maximum four tenths, so I wasn't sure that I could pull out more than that, but obviously I could and it was nice.

Q: Do you feel that you have caught up the time that you lost this morning.

MS: Obviously it doesn't seem to have mattered a huge amount. We will never found out how much it would have mattered but then, as I said, we developed the car in a good way. It was very comfortable for me already, but we were planning to do further changes in order to continue to improve, which we couldn't.

Q: How important is the ride over the kerbs, particularly in the Veedol chicane?

MS: Well, it can help, certainly, and you can see certain cars handle more critically than others riding the kerbs, but all in all it's not the only factor. You have to have a car for the whole lap.

Q: Ralf, disappointed that it's not pole position after this morning?

RS: Not at all - though just one thing to use the time. Before this weekend came it was not lying but yesterday - two hours in fact before we announced what we were doing - I had a few journalists asking me what I was going to do. I said 'I don't know when it is going to be announced, we're still in negotiations'. So that was not a lie, I signed it afterwards just to apologise for that because otherwise I look like a liar. Coming back - pole position? Not really because from we saw what Ferrari was doing we saw they were going quicker and quicker on old tyres as Michael said. After we saw Rubens doing a 15.8 - and we know how much Michael's able to go quicker - so I knew that it was going to be tight. In actual fact I'm surprised that we are so good here compared to Bridgestone runners.

Q: The temperature went up during qualifying and 30 degrees you would have thought was 'Michelin weather' yet you set your time earlier in the session.

RS: I think I had a pretty good first lap. Here it is always difficult to say, on some circuits the circuit goes quicker during the session but here so much dirt is next to the kerbs and drivers do pull a lot of dirt onto the circuit. In actual fact sometimes I get the opinion they do it on purpose after their run but that's the way it is and obviously that slows the whole thing down a bit.

Q: Do you feel your handling was good over the kerbs?

RS: Our car was fine otherwise we wouldn't be where we are.

Q: Race conditions all right?

RS: That's another issue. We struggled specifically on Friday in the first session in the morning, it got a little bit better in the second but that's still a bit of problem we had with the tyre we have here. The temperature hopefully is going to increase a little tomorrow again and the rubber obviously comes down on the circuit and I'm sure it will become better for us but in the first third or half of the race I think Bridgestone have an advantage.

Q: Just to clarify what you said earlier - you've signed with the team until 2004?

RS: That's correct, yes.

Q: Juan Pablo, you must be pretty pleased.

JPM: Yeah, it went all right. The car this morning was really good - especially at the beginning of the second session - we did a couple of changes and seemed to have got lost a little bit. We got it back in qualifying and it was just a bit too much oversteer to really push it.

Q: The great task is surely going to be to finish the race.

JPM: From where we are if we finish the race we should be okay, get some good points.

Q: Are you worried about the McLarens behind you?

JPM: No, I think the Michelin tyres seem to drop a bit more than the Bridgestones but we'll see tomorrow. We've got a pretty strong engine on the straights, we should be safe.

Q: Has race testing gone okay?

JPM: The last few tests things have been getting better, Canada was a bit of a disappointment, especially after Friday - it was a very good Friday for me and Saturday I lost all the time. It really hurts when you go out for qualifying and you can't find a rhythm. Here we haven't had any failures and things are going really well.

Q: Surprised to beat the McLarens?

JPM: No this morning we were really competitive and the McLarens, they seemed to struggle. It seemed like yesterday they were running low fuel all the time so it's pretty good for us.

Q: After the first run you were behind your brother - was it tyres, you or Ralf?

MS: I think it was a matter of not running the second part of the morning session and it was the first run I did since then, so naturally that's a little bit below 100 percent. Then we made a setup change which made us another step faster and that's why the time came. Together with me and the change and maybe, as he suggested, getting older and he's a bit younger!

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