FIA Press Conference

Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard

FIA Press Conference

Q. Michael, how important psychologically was it for you to be on pole position today?

Michael Schumacher: Pole position is the best start position for the race, as we all know, and you simply want to achieve that. You want to have the best opportunity to really win the race. That was our target for the whole weekend, to try to win this race and to really finish this championship. This is the first step towards it. It's not finished yet. But obviously we have the best starting position and a competitive car to finish the job.

Usually when other cars go out early, they somehow make the track competitive. That wasn't the case today, so there was no need to go out early. Afterwards there was no time to do more than we did.

We'll see tomorrow!

Basically, yes. We made some adjustments, which helped me to go quicker, and my last run was pretty good. But at the last corner - the chicane - I wasn't able to accelerate out of the corner as fast as I wanted to do. So obviously I am a bit disappointed to be in second place.

In a situation like we were it was just a question of getting the lines through the corners right and getting the braking points correct. I was gradually improving in every sector. We didn't do anything spectacular during the session - and I was quite happy with the car.

Actually, that has nothing to do with it when it comes down to qualifying. For me, it's just like it is at the first race of the season: I wanted to do my best. I have struggled this weekend to find the balance and to be able to really attack the circuit. I didn't really feel I had a competitive chance to go for the front row. Nonetheless, I am happy to have made some improvements and to have got a bit closer. I suppose I now have the best seat in the house to watch what happens for the championship.

You know, there has been so much talk about this, but I think everyone is overplaying what teams can actually do. I cannot be miraculously placed in front of Michael, or anything like that: we have to go racing and see what happens. At the moment I am not as quick as Michael or Mika, so clearly I have to make a good start. If I get in front of one of them who knows what can happen? First of all, let's see what happens at the start.

Naturally this is not a race like any other. We can finish the championship here. I guess I am used to this. But there is no point in celebrating this pole position big time. It's nice, but it isn't the end result. We will have to fight for that very hard tomorrow, in my view. But we are ready to do that.

In the press conference...

No. What can I say?

Yes, a very high quality pole position fight.

Q. You only did nine laps, again. Was that not a gamble?

MS: I could have done 12, yes. But as I mentioned before, in my view at least this circuit wasn't in good condition in the early stage. There was no point on going out early and just wasting a set of tyres. So we concentrated on the end, which is usually faster, and Ross Brawn did a good job with the timing to get me out.

I saw the first two sectors, then I was a little more quiet. I knew it would have been a tight qualifying situation, and if he had got the lap together either of us could have been on pole position today. It's only a difference of 12 hundredths. That's nothing.

I believe honestly its not as important as many other races, because here the asphalt on the main straight is not as abrasive as it used to be. On the inside it's more abrasive, but it's also dirtier. I think one balances out the other, so you probably only have the advantage that comes from being a couple of metres in front. There is no point in purposely trying to be somewhere and being too smart. You naturally want to be on pole so you just go for it.

Get a good start. That traditionally seems to be difficult for us here. But I believe we have adapted a little bit, and learned since the past. Then drive it home. That will be difficult again. But if we lead into the first corner we will have a very good opportunity. Even if we don't lead there, the race won't be over either.

Of course. So why not? Let's say this was a very enjoyable qualifying session for me, and for a lot of other people, too. Particularly on the last run, with my last set of tyres, things were going really well. But just coming out of the last chicane I wasn't able to get on the power, and I lost two tenths there. Otherwise it would have been fantastic.

Yeah. It's good to be on the front row. And as you have seen the last couple of years the starts haven't been too bad for me over here. So I am confident to be in second at the moment.

I don't see it as a problem for us at the moment. Personally I am happy with the tyres, the way they are handling and the situation we have. If you were to have tyres that were a little softer than the ones we are running now, it could be a problem. To have a harder tyre could also be a problem. In my view Bridgestone has done some very good work with the tyres we are all using here.

Well, it would certainly make the race more difficult. This is not a very easy track when it rains because we tend to run over the kerbs quite a lot in certain places. If you run over the kerbs too much in the rain it could be fatal. Rain here is never very pleasant.

No, but the reality is that I am probably the only one here who didn't believe he could be on pole. I have not been that quick this weekend, so I am reasonably happy to be only four tenths behind. It shows that I have made improvements all weekend. The race is a different story altogether, obviously, so I think I can be quite competitive.

Well, a little bit of everything. In terms of overall balance it's probably been as good as I have ever had around here. But in terms of the grip, I have found it more difficult to place the car than I would have liked. That has meant I lost a bit of confidence, and therefore I wasn't attacking the entries to the corners and getting on the power as quick as I might otherwise do. On a track as long as this one, that has been enough to create the time difference that you have seen.

A little bit, but not too much. To be honest, I had started with the car a little bit different from Mika's, in the belief that it might be a good way for this track, and I brought it a little bit closer to his. But I didn't want to go too far away from the overall set-up and put it into an area that was unknown to the team. So the changes we made were not big ones. My last runs were within one tenth of each other but I still needed to find that last little bit.

Not at all. These new tyres are very good in all respects. I have no concerns.

Coulthard plays down team orders talk

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