Saturday May 12th, 2001
Q: Michael, can you explain how you were the only driver capable of doing two flying laps on each run?
Michael Schumacher: I tried but I didn't actually do it because the second time I went out I had to abort because it didn't go any faster. Obviously we had the first run with two flying laps, it was decided what we then had to do afterwards. We were lucky that we had an extra lap in hand, but obviously then unlucky because Jos had a spin in the second last corner. I would have liked to get that lap in because, you never know, I didn't actually know what was going on, who was still able to go faster or not, so initially I felt a little concerned about this but then obviously nobody had gone faster.
Q: Were you aware that the McLarens were really struggling?
MS: No, I was told on the radio after qualifying was finished where they ended up. I was pretty sure that they could improve their performance within the end of the session. Normally you do and everybody - not everybody actually, so have some have not. This circuit, with the wind and with the set-up is very special and you need to get things right otherwise you look to be in a difficult position. Remember us last year, we were in very difficult position in qualifying because we didn't get the set-up right.
Q: Can you clarify the pit lane entry situation now?
MS: Today, since the driver's briefing yesterday, we decided to ignore the line. Actually, the pit lane entry is in the same area as it was last year, the same corner, principally. It just starts a little bit earlier. We were concerned yesterday because of this and we said let's try to have the normal speed and see what is the speed difference you have to chose to get into the pit and I don't think it's that much. I guess Charlie, the race director, will decide whether we have to come back to yesterday's decision or whether we can stay with what we have done today. To me it's pretty safe, the way we've done it today. I don't see an issue with it, because the speed difference you have to chose is very little.
Q: Juan, can you talk us through your qualifying?
Juan Pablo Montoya: I think it went pretty well. Before we've had quite difficult Fridays and stuff and finally, apart from Brazil, we got a good Friday in and we definitely did a lot of improvements in the car and it really paid off. It's been very close all weekend, but it's very great to be ahead of Ralf.
Q: What difference did the wind change make?
JPM: Yes, for us, especially for me, looking at the data, I couldn't improve the times because the wind changed direction and it was head-on. It would be a lot more difficult.
Q: Ralf, how was qualifying for you; were you able to make changes as the session was compressed into forty minutes?
Ralf Schumacher: Well obviously there wouldn't have been time for a big change but we knew that our car was reasonably well balanced and that's why we took the risk. I think qualifying went relatively well. One run I got held up by traffic and I made a mistake myself on the last run which can happen, shouldn't happen. I think for a team we had good qualifying today and we are in a pretty promising position tomorrow.
Q: How are you going to work out your start tomorrow; you've both been very quick off the line this year?
RS: We'll see what happens. Whoever gets to the first corner first will go in first, I guess. It shouldn't be a problem at all - I hope.
Q: Michael well done, from what you said just now it sounds as though it was the intention to do two laps on the tyres.
Michael Schumacher: Yesterday we didn't do a lot of work and the circuit obviously changes even up to this morning. We didn't have the full picture of what is the best procedure and therefore we experimented in qualifying. It's pretty much up to the style you drive and my team mate preferred a different solution.
Q: So right at the end, that was a big drama wasn't it?
MS: I wanted to get in this lap because everything was going so nice and I was going faster and I saw Jos going off and I thought I could just get by. Then I saw him coming towards me so I had to abort it and go inside to avoid him. Big drama? No. I saw everything that was happening and I was in control of that, I just was not too sure if Jos was going in the gravel or if he was going to come back inside the circuit. I was feeling he would come back in the circuit and I was preparing to avoid that.
Q: Tell us about pole position here, how vital is it?
MS: With the traction or launch control starts we're doing now it's normally not the case that you can do big mistakes and therefore the variation between cars shouldn't be so big because the general traction level of cars up front pretty similar so it's all down to reaction time and I shouldn't lack any of that in this moment and it is vital to be first for the first corner. Then you can dictate the pace and force the others to drive the way you want to drive.
Q: Your traditional rivals are back in seventh and eighth on the grid - can you discount them?
MS: No. You shouldn't discount them, we know they're good at starting and people who are up front it may be possible to catch them on the start and they could be fourth, fifth and then the race isn't over at that stage unless they can't improve their performance compared to what they have shown. But this morning they looked reasonably fast and it's a bit strange to see them on the lap times they have done. I guess they will have a reason for that and they will fix it for tomorrow so I'm not discounting them at all.
Q: Juan Pablo, well done, did you think you could be on the front row?
Juan Pablo Montoya: Not really based on what we saw this morning, I thought we should be top six but never really expected to be ahead of Ferraris and McLarens. I think in the middle of the session the track was a lot quicker and that everybody did their time at that time. Later on I tried to improve it but even though I tried to go a little bit quicker through the corners and everything we had a little bit of headwind going up the hill.
Q: Do you think you can win this race tomorrow? I know Colombia thinks you can.
JPM: I think it's quite difficult at the moment. I know it looks like the performance from the tyres over one lap is really good but we need to see tomorrow how they're going to behave and it looks like the way Bridgestone is running they can go longer than us so it'll be good to have a good start.
Q: Setup good?
JPM: Yeah, it's only my second weekend with no problems on the Friday and that makes a huge difference because you can definitely do a lot of work and we had a good talk with the engineers and we said that we needed to raise our game. They did and I did today and it really paid off.
Q: Ralf, are you surprised by the team performance here?
Ralf Schumacher: After testing in Valencia I must say yes, we were generally a second slower than the McLarens and now suddenly we out qualified them by quite a bit. But then whether we have the right choice for a race distance we find out tomorrow. We have done long runs but obviously the circuit was very green then and it was a lot colder - as it is supposed to be tomorrow. I'm quite sure that for the second half of the race we should be competitive but for the first half until there's some rubber down it could be a bit difficult.
Q: Is Juan's performance a surprise to you as well?
RS: No it's not, he showed everybody in Brazil that he's quick so... no. It's always nice if you out-qualify your team mate but sometimes it happens, doesn't it?
Q: Are you happy with the car here?
RS: The car was reasonable, it's good that you get to get a trouble free or mistake free lap because to drive to the limit it's easy to over-brake it or get a an oversteer on the corner exit so it was a bit difficult, that was the reason why I only got one proper run in. It happened to most people this weekend. It looks very simple from the outside and in a way it is but it's so slippery that it makes the whole thing difficult.
Q: Are we going to see spins tomorrow then?
RS: I had my practice I guess, I spun today and twice yesterday so that should be enough for the weekend.
Q: Juan Pablo, in Spain you made up six places from the first corner, what about tomorrow?
JPM: When you look at my qualifying performance it's not perfect but it's getting much better. I think today that we've shown that we can do it. It'd be nice if we can do a start like we did last time.
Q: Michael you aborted your first fast lap, was that traffic?
MS: No, I had a mistake in Turn 2, I ran very wide and I can see my times immediately afterward and I knew it would have been too slow so I just prepared everything for the next one.