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European GP: Thursday press conference

May 27, 2005


The first FIA press conference of the European GP weekend, with the following drivers: Jenson Button (BAR), Nick Heidfeld (Williams), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota).

Jenson, can I start with you considering you have been a little unemployed over the last few weekends. What was it like to watch as a spectator rather than drive?
Jenson BUTTON: I was employed. I was commentating for ITV. It was quite interesting actually, to watch the race while it was actually happening.

And how was the commentary?
JB: I was quite good! Quite impressed with myself.

And modest too! Coming here, are you frustrated? Are you like a greyhound on a leash?
JB: I am not frustrated now. I have been, but we are back racing again so I am very excited and counting down the minutes to go out on the circuit. It has been a tough couple of weeks, not being in the car considering we think we have a reasonably quick car. But we have to get our heads down and get on with the race.

Is the rest of the team thinking the same way?
JB: Definitely. I think everyone is very positive. They handled the situation very well and as a team we are very strong and we are very positive.

So you are going to come back with a bang?
JB: We have to wait and see. We haven’t got the easiest slot in qualifying, first and second, so that won’t be very easy, but I am sure we will make the best out of the situation we are in.

Michael, Monaco is always regarded as a bit of a one-off. How do you come here for this race weekend?
Michael SCHUMACHER: With a lot of optimism, I think. In most of the races we have been very competitive, it is just qualifying that we struggle. We are optimistic we can handle it better here.

Is the change in qualifying going to be good or bad for you?
MS: Put it this way, even if it is bad, it is only bad once, not twice any more!

So, in a way that is good, in a way that’s an improvement.
MS: Yeah.

You came under fire from both Rubens and your brother after the Monaco Grand Prix, is there more to say on that or is it all said?
MS: It is all over. I mean, Ralf and myself had a nice chat about it. It is racing.

Ralf, do you understand his viewpoint?
Ralf SCHUMACHER: As he said, we discussed it and it’s done. It is not right to discuss this any more.

Gerhard Berger said after the race that you had problems with mirrors, what was the problem?
RS: Yeah, he is well informed! I lost my left-hand mirror, left mirror? I think it was left-hand mirror. Just the mirror blade went off, it does happen with the vibrations we have.

And was that a problem around Monaco, where it is so tight?
RS: No, I think in Monaco the last few laps were a bit of a disaster because of all the slower cars and there was a lot of fighting going on and that is why it was a bit close towards the end.

This is the home race for you and for the team as well. What does that mean to you?
RS: It is always great to perform well in front of a home crowd. We have a chance to score some good points and maybe a bit more but we have to wait and see what the weather is doing.

So Nick, second in Monaco. Has it sunk in yet, or has it gone past?
Nick HEIDFELD: No, it’s definitely sunk in. It was the first second place of my career, obviously it was great it happened in Monaco, and I definitely realize it.

Obviously this is a very different circuit to Monaco, are you quite confident here after last weekend.
NH: Yeah, clearly we are moving in the right direction but I am sure it is going to be a bit more difficult here. Obviously, a couple of teams were struggling with their tires at the last race, so that is not going to make things easier.

What about the changes in qualifying here. Is it going to make a difference to you?
NH: I don’t think it will be a big difference. I find it strange that lots of people seem to love this idea when I think it is more or less the same as last year, and last year we changed it because nobody liked it. So I think it is a bit strange.

(Stan Piecha – The Sun) Michael, no doubt you will have already read or heard that Liverpool won the champions league last night after being 3-0 down. Does that give you any hope in the situation that you find yourself in that in sport anything can happen?
MS: I think you want to upset the Italians, mentioning again Liverpool won. Yeah, quite clearly, yesterday shows as well that you have to fight to the last moment.

(Dusko Dragic – Ekipa) Michael, after the race at Imola a fan jumped over the wall at the Variante Alta and ran towards you with a flag. The same thing happened here at the Nürburgring in 2001 and that was a positive thing. The negative moments came in Hockenheim in 2000 and Silverstone 2003 where in fact a fan who was trying to ruin the race helped Ferrari win. Are you afraid that some day someone will deliberately try to destroy your race?
MS: No, I hope not. You never know what goes on in the minds of people, but it has happened twice in a negative way. Actually, normally in the past fans would run onto the track after the race had finished, 20 years ago or 15 years ago. Now they don’t. To talk about the two obstacles, I guess safety and security systems have been improved to avoid that happening.

(Dusko Dragic – Ekipa) Why didn’t you pick up the Ferrari flag at Imola?
MS: We are not allowed to. The rules forbid us to stop and take any stuff because we could literally take weight off the car.

(Livio Orricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) ) Michael, Rubens complained that you overtook him in the last race on the last lap. What do you have to say?
MS: Yeah, it’s true. I did. It is racing and I mean, if you see the situation in general, you have a race, you are tired, you have emotions, when you think about it and you see the race you may think differently. I haven’t seen him today but I spoke to him on Monday because it was his birthday. He was pretty relaxed. He is Brazilian, anyway, you should know, he is a bit more temperamental.

(Juha Paatalo – Financial Times Germany) Michael and Ralf, in the German press there has been this brother war going on the last four days. What do you think about it all?
MS: Honestly, I think we are both very highly competitive race drivers, we fight on the circuit, everyone for his own interest, in a way for his team. But you never forget it is your brother, and you love your brother. You finish the race, you may have some more emotions, but it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, it is your brother, your blood, and everything that has been written in these silly newspapers at this moment, if you know each other, if you would know us two then you know it is ‘BS’.

RS: Nothing to add.

(Mike Doodson) (The microphone did not work initially.) The incident between you and Michael follows a number of incidents in which Michael was involved. Back in 1992, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Michael was almost put off the road by Ayrton Senna. He was very upset about it. He was upset about it at the time and he never complained about it again. All he did was, to change his whole attitude, he adopted Senna’s style. The question I have for you, Ralf, is why don’t you adopt Michael’s style and do to him exactly what he has been doing to you and other people for so many years?
MS: I think there was a good reason why your microphone didn’t work! (Much laughter)

RS: You should answer that one! Basically that is the way it is. In racing situations sometime you see things in a different way. We all fight for positions, people do think it is a bit tough or too tough, and maybe those things happen to me as well. Maybe for the future we adapt all that. At the end of the day we are all sensible. Nobody wants to hurt another driver but obviously, at the same time, you have to fight for your position, for your team and your own points, and it is a decision we sometimes have to take within a couple of tenths of a second. It might not always been the right one. It is like a start incident, things like this can always happen.

(Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News). Jenson and Nick, not referring to Monaco at all, how do you guys draw the line between an aggressive pass, safety, maybe not passing, etc?
JB: Every situation is different. You can’t explain now what you would do in a certain situation, it’s impossible. When you are there at the time it is always very different than what you can ever imagine. I’m sure it is in the back of your mind, your limits, but to talk about it is very difficult.

NH: The same. You have to look at each incident individually. You cannot explain what is good or what is a clean overtaking maneuver. You just have to watch it and then discuss it. It is not that easy.

(Markus Götting - Stern) Ralf, as far as I know, the comments that you gave were not exactly after the race, but even a day after the race or two days after the race. So that seems to me that it is not a matter of overheating after the race, you still seem to have the same opinion on what Michael did. And what does your wife have to say now that you’ve talked to Michael about it? (Laughter)
RS: I think she concentrates on her Mini Challenge. I think she was involved in that by accident. She didn’t really want to, because that was her words from Sunday. You have an opinion, it is nothing to do with being emotional or anything. Obviously, straight after the race, you can be slightly more emotional. You have an opinion and you stick to it. But it has nothing to do with a war, a family or brotherly war, it is just a different opinion. Whether it would have been Michael or anybody else, at that moment I had a different opinion than a competitor. So I don’t really see what the fuss is about. I understand to some extend that it is interesting for people to write about. It was maybe a good advert for tickets at the Nürburgring, so it’s great for all of us, isn’t it? (Laughter)

Ralf, did you change your opinion that your brother sometimes switches his brain off?
RS: I think we all do from time to time. As I said before, you have to take a decision within a couple of tenths sometimes and it might not always be the right one.

(Leopold Wieland – Auto Bild Motorsport) We discussed about the special track, Monaco, do you think it is still okay to race in Monaco because it’s very dangerous. The outcome could have been even much worse.
RS: I think for drivers, to some extent, it is really enjoyable to drive in Monaco because it is the ultimate racetrack, where you just cannot make mistakes and you’re trying to be quicker than else, but it still doesn’t change the fact that we go quicker and quicker each year, basically, and that the run-off is not particularly big, as I experienced myself on a qualifying lap. So from safety grounds maybe we shouldn’t be there anymore but it is not up to us to decide that.

(Dominic Fugere – Le Journal de Montreal) Michael, Ralf has been saying a few times now at this press conference that you have to take a decision in a few tenths of a second and it might not be the right one. Did you feel that the decision to fight for position that late in the race with your brother was the right one, or do you think it might have been taken a little quickly, and as Ralf says, it might not have been the right one?
MS: Listen, I think we both said that we have to race each other. It is racing, maybe we might disagree on certain points of view but it’s pretty natural. We are both very competitive, we have our opinions and I think we have to have our opinions. But to now make a detailed fuss about it, and ‘he has said this little word there and he has done this little thing there.’ Let’s be serious and stop the idiot business and let’s continue again with the normal stuff.

(Dusko Dragic – Ekipa) Michael, here at the Nürburgring back in 1957, Juan Manuel Fangio drove probably the best race of his life before he retired. Do you think you still need that last big win before, as Fangio would say ‘now it’s time for the youngsters?
’MS: No.

Every one has been a big win.
MS: No, but each one is different, each one is special in a different way. There are some which are more outstanding than others, but even a race like Monaco, I have to say I did enjoy it. It was a tough time, I was at the back and I had to fight my way back into position. I enjoy it but it doesn’t always need to be the best race that you won. It is most likely to be, but it doesn’t need to be.

(Dusko Dragic – Ekipa) Last year the director of the Nürburgring circuit organized a show where the drivers took lucky fans for one lap around the circuit in the team’s engine supplier’s cars. This year, the show is going to be repeated, but again without the Ferrari drivers. Why are you not coming? I realize that this is more a question for your superiors.
MS: Yeah, I guess so. It is a commercial question, and I don’t know what the commercial background is.

--FIA--  Photos courtesy Toyota'

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