Sunday May 13th, 2001
Q: David, you brought some cheer at the end of a sad weekend for McLaren.
David Coulthard: I'd just like to explain why I wasn't spraying the champagne for those at home who don't realise that we lost a very important member of the team, Paul Morgan, this weekend, and winning this Grand Prix is a big boost for everybody in the team.
Q: You ran an incredibly long first stint, longer than anyone else, and then you emerged in the lead. Was that the tactic?
DC: Yes. From where I was on the grid, having qualified seventh, it was important to start heavy and then just to have the options open, depending on how the race went. I was able to lean the engine out early on after the first few laps and save quite a few laps of fuel as well as obviously with the safety car and that enabled us to go quite long.
Q: Michael, can you put your finger on why you didn't get a good start?
Michael Schumacher: Not really. We had some kind of problem. Certainly the car didn't start in the way it was supposed to start, and basically I did a manual start afterwards, because there was some kind of problem but I'm sure we will find out why. You know all these systems are still very new and like we have seen with David, something happened to him in Barcelona with the system, now it happened to me, and I guess a few other people will still get surprises until everything is really reliable.
Q: Could you talk us through what happened with Juan Pablo Montoya?
MS: I was a little bit upset, obviously, because there was no way he could make that corner and all he was trying to do was take me with him out of the circuit. He was lost anyway. To do something to me then, I thought it wasn't really... What he should have done, because I had to go into the grass, I couldn't turn in, I nearly hit him, so it wasn't ideal, but that's the way it had gone and be sure I will have a word with him. But that meant that I was in sixth or seventh position and I had to work my way through the traffic which wasn't easy, because the Michelin drivers had problems with their tyres, so normally, sooner or later I would have passed Juan Pablo but the other guys were on Bridgestones and that was much more difficult. I had to wait until they did a few mistakes and then I took my chance to Panis and to Raikkonen who behaved very accurately and that allowed me to come back into the race and pick up the two guys in front.
Q: Rubens, why did you pull over to let Michael through?
Rubens Barrichello: The team has asked me to do that.
Q: Are you very unhappy about that?
RB: No. I am unhappy about the situation. I was winning almost the whole Grand Prix and then of course David went longer and I lost the race, basically like that. That's why I'm feeling unhappy.
Q: David. The deficit to Michael was eight points before the race, now it's halved to four points going to Monaco. What do you think about the rest of the season?
DC: Well, I think as you can see, the Grands Prix are going to be very close between ourselves and Ferrari, but Williams as well, so it's really going to come down to who gets their car and their tyres working well in Monaco. It's a circuit I enjoy, I've gone well there in the past, so there's everything to play for.
Q: David, did you ever think that you could have won today after your qualifying session?
DC: I thought that if I was going to win it was going to be because cars getting tangled at the first corner. In my dream last night, I came out in the lead. But I didn't obviously think that the situation came out was good, that the Williams were holding up the Ferraris initially. You could see from where I was sitting that it wasn't a question of if something happens between Michael and Juan Pablo, it was a question of when and where. It happened, and we benefited from that. Obviously with the strategy that we ran on fuel, and the fuel we saved by running lean, when they pitted, I knew I had a real chance of winning.
Q: How was the car today in comparison to yesterday?
DC: It was a little camber but I still wasn't entirely happy. That may sound a little harsh when you've just won a Grand Prix but the sweet spot of the balance comes for a few laps, and either side of that, the car is quite difficult to drive. I had to concentrate very hard not to make any mistakes and if anything I had to drive a little bit below the car initially when the car was very heavy, just to make sure I didn't make any mistakes. Then I was able to push later in the race.
Q: The pace seemed pretty intense the entire way through.
DC: It was great. That's what Grands Prix should be like. I had a great view of what was happening in front initially and I thought that his must make good television. There's nothing better for a driver in any formula to feel like your battling in close quarters with your competitors. Even if you're not fortunate enough to win, it's still a much better feeling than just running around on an empty track. You could see the pace that we were all able to run. Obviously it was quite similar between all the cars. It came down to strategy and other situations on the track which go with racing and thankfully today it worked for us.
Q: You had one or two problems with traffic; was that a major problem?
DC: I calculated that during the race I lost three seconds. Passing some cars was a little more difficult. I appreciate it is difficult for them to judge just how quickly you are coming up on them and also there's very little difference in the straightline speed between various cars, so you may be much quicker in the corner but make no headway in the straight. So that was difficult. It's an issue we discuss every weekend in the drivers' briefing as to how to make it better. I don't really know what the situation is, you just need to hope as much as possible that the guys being lapped keep out of the way.
Q: Your rivals clearly have driver orders. Do you think there's a case for you to have the same?
MC: I have been asked this question a few times already. If you look back at previous seasons, I think that as late as Spa, when I was behind Mika in the championship and he was battling with Michael, I was still able to win that Grand Prix, so I think that to stop everyone asking that question repeatedly and that sort of point in the season, I think that should explain what the normal rules are at McLaren.
Q: Michael, what was that early battle like?
MS: I do normally enjoy these things, with the exception of the final situation, because he basically wasn't looking where he was going, he was looking where I was going to make sure I went with him. That was a little bit silly. That's what happened. I didn't really enjoy that moment, because otherwise things were fair, he moved over once and that's the way it is. Racing is hard, he made it as hard as he could and I tried to get by him. Sooner or later I would have gone by anyway, because whatever was his problem was big enough normally for us to overtake. Obviously after that, I made the way free for all the other guys who could then pick up the pace, as all the other runners were Bridgestone runners and they were pretty even paced. You saw even Raikkonen and Panis were able to stay close for a long time. I was lucky actually to get by at a certain time to keep close to the guys in front.
Q: After the incident with Montoya, what were your hopes, your tactics?
MS: To wait and see what the pit stops would do for us. Nobody was confident on who could go for how long. This weekend we have that answer. Probably we haven't got the maximum out of it, because as I was then in traffic, I hadn't the chance to save fuel or do anything like that. I had to push to get by so obviously that meant we had to come in a bit earlier.
Q: You seemed to be right on the ragged edge, sometimes over it a little.
MS: That's what you have to do if you're in this position. I didn't have much to lose. I could have stayed behind and wait all race until the pit stops. But then I wouldn't have had a chance to have a go to get back up to the lead, which at some stage I thought I could. Once I was by, I was picking up the pace to the guys in front good enough and I was hoping that maybe - because of the brake problems here - the guys would make some little mistakes which would allow me to get by. But the speeds were too close to the guys in front.
Q: What did you think of Rubens's gesture at the end?
MS: As I said before, I'm obviously very happy that he did that because, as you can see, with Mika not finishing the race, I think it's pretty clear who McLaren will send for the championship now, because there's very little chance for Mika to win the championship now in my view. David, having scored all these points, will be sent to the championship. I'm in the other position from Ferrari to do this. So we need to concentrate on this.
Q: So the situation may happen again at any race from now on when Rubens is ahead of you?
MS: Not necessarily, it will depend on the circumstances. If I hadn't been as close as I was, the team wouldn't have done anything. Only because I was getting by and I was a little bit faster the team decided to do this.
Q: Rubens, when were you asked by the team if you would let Michael by?
RB: Many times. I have very little to say in the press conference, unfortunately. I still have to go down and talk to the team and clarify things. I just don't want to make any statement before I talk to the team.
Q: How was the car during the race?
RB: I chose to start on used fronts and new rears, which was a good choice. I was struggling a little bit towards the end of my first stint with grip generally, especially front grip. It was a good choice. I was running a fairly hard race from the beginning. I didn't have a good start, just like Michael but I felt it was one of my best races, running really hard. Unfortunately, Coulthard could go a little bit more than we did at this race and that paid for him, otherwise I could have won. It was one of those races where I had a good feeling, I had a good car, I was really driving as fast as I could behind him, but there was very little to take away and unfortunately I couldn't go to win again.
Q: Michael, David said that the clash between you and Juan Pablo looked inevitable and you also said that you could have passed him easily later on - how did you manage to get tangled up?
MS: When you are on the outside and another car is on the inside and it stays in the same position and it never allows you to get back on the circuit then you have no chance and this was simply the fact. If Montoya would have made the corner I would have made the corner but he kept going so slow and then still not making the corner but I couldn't get back on the circuit otherwise I would have snapped off my nose and I didn't want to do this. It's fair to some degree that there was no real unfair situation but I think he knew that he couldn't make the corner anymore - he was still trying. Obviously I have a different opinion than he will have on this situation. I don't want to make a big fuss but I believe he knew he was going anyway off the circuit and was trying to take me with him and that's something I didn't like in particular.
Q: Rubens, sorry for this embarrassing question but why did you accept that kind of team order?
RB: I cannot answer, it's something very much inside. I put myself into a situation in Malaysia and unfortunately I cannot open my heart right now, I'm sorry.
Q: David you were quickest yesterday morning and quick again in the race - can you tell us what exactly happened in qualifying?
DC: If you look at our weekend, you study the times on Friday and Saturday and this morning we were only really quick at certain points late in the session. At other points we were struggling a little bit for balance, we were on a knife-edge of getting the car right for the circuit. Once we were there we could do the lap time but go either side of it and there was no confidence to push the car and you've got two hours on Friday, an hour and a half on Saturday morning and we went out with 25 minutes to go in qualifying with no time to sort the car. It just shows how tricky these cars are to set up.
Q: Michael, two weeks ago in Barcelona you said that you were really lucky and didn't really deserve the ten points for the victory - do you think you really deserve the six points today?
MS: Maybe not.
Q: Michael, in terms of pure sporting spirit don't you think Ferrari's strategy is not really fair?
MS: Imagine at the end of the season I have missed the championship by two points, yes, it is sport to win it like this as well. Listen, I think it is a different philosophy Ferrari has on that against McLaren and I think you simply have to accept the different philosophies - you don't have to like it, but that's the way it is. I think this sport is involved a lot of things - a lot of money, a lot of pressure, and all that counts in the end is the championship to be honest. And as long as we don't work against the rules I think we're quite fair to do this and the rules say quite clearly that there is nothing stopping that, so for sure there will be some people disagreeing, there will be other people who agree, that's the way of life.
DC: Please don't get it banned before I, once in my career, get the benefit of this!
Q: David do you agree what Michael said earlier about Mika's situation in the championship and what did you think when the Ferraris were coming closer and closer in the last few laps?
DC: Well I think that track position was the most important thing so I wasn't too concerned. After five laps after the pit stop I was able to pull away slightly so I was quite comfortable that I wasn't under any real threat. And I don't know about the championship, none of us has the crystal ball to see into the future, there's a lot of points still to play for and in theory the guys at the front of the championship could not finish a few Grands Prix and Mika could win a few and he could be there so you're only outside a chance of winning until the points don't add up. Naturally, the further back you are the more difficult it is.
Q: Michael, you just explained the philosophy of the Ferrari team but isn't that in a way cheating the public as well?
MS: You know usually after such events there's a little row in a room coming up, but by the next race people tend to forget this. Remember what happened in Melbourne with McLaren, it is not only like Ferrari is doing something completely different to anyone else so I think it is part of the sport. There are some people who don't like it, other people who understand what we want to do... you're free to have a different opinion but accept our opinion as well. Wait till the next races and you will see what McLaren will do.
Q: I'm talking about this race.
MS: Yeah, but in this race already it was clear what will be the future because Mika hasn't finished a race, David is in a good position for the championship and you have to think a little bit ahead and not say after 'actually we should have done that before' so there is a lot of calculation, there is very clever people involved who know what they are doing. I can't tell him (Rubens), to slow down, it's not me who is the only person saying that, it is the philosophy of the whole team and as I said again, some people agree, other people disagree. Some people would want to do it that way, other people would do it in a different way and if you do look at motor sport in general - if you look at saloon car races and if you look at other series it has always been part of racing.
Q: Michael, do you think it is necessary to speak with Montoya?
MS: I think I should first watch the video. Obviously I have the opinion I have expressed, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe when I watch the video I will see it slightly differently because when you are in a racing car when it happens although you are there you don't see all the factors, you don't see which kind of trouble he may have and you always have a very nice view. It's different for you because you have ten replays or whatever, I don't have that so first I will watch the video and if I think I have to say something to him then I will do.
Q: Michael, were you surprised that Rubens stopped before you? Was there a discussion?
MS: No, I guess as he was running in the lead and timing his way I guess he could save some fuel which I, going right through the field, wasn't really possible.
Q: Michael, is it fair to say that Rubens had you beaten today?
Q: You're happy about your position?
MS: Yes - I mean he's a very fast racing driver, I don't think I need to be ashamed that he is faster than me, he has proved very often how fast he is so that's the way it is.