Michael Schumacher Ė Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro Hiroshi Yasukawa Ė Director of
Bridgestone Motorsport [Press Conference Open to General Public]
Michael, you are still looking for your first victory
of the year. Will it be this weekend? MS: If I listen to the support, we should do it, there shouldnít be any question
about that! But as you have seen lately weíre sort of struggling a little bit, and we havenít been all the way competitive so
far. But as usual we will try our best. Bridgestone is highly motivated, and ourselves, weíre pushing to get the car going, get
the car back to the competitiveness we had in the past and last year in particular. The competition is tough. Those other guys, the
other teams are doing a great job, and itís difficult to beat them at the moment.
Of course the rules this year require
that the engines last for two races and you use one set of Bridgestone tyres for the complete event. Has that changed the way you
approach the race, have you changed your driving style to accommodate the new tyre rules this year? MS: It has certainly
changed big time. All winter long we had to no longer work for just a 20 lap stint, but we had to work for the whole 300kms race
distance, and even more [because] we have to do qualifying. At the winter time there were two qualifying sessions, now there is only
one. So there was quite a big demand for testing and development, because we didnít really want to take away any performance, we
wanted to keep the performance. And on the other side, keep the tyres as durable as they have to be. It was a pretty tough task. I
think weíve improved massively since the beginning of the season. Itís an area where Bridgestone is working very hard with a lot
of progress every time, and thereís a lot to come.
Mr Yasukawa, with the new tyre regulation this year, how has that
changed Bridgestoneís product, now they have to make it last all the way through qualifying and the race? HY: This new
regulation has a very strong impact for us, because last year when you were watching the races you saw tyre changes Ė maybe once,
or twice, or three times. But this year we cannot see tyre changes, which means that we have to produce, as Michael explained,
around 380kms Ė or 250 miles. Then our technical people are concerned about safety, safety is very important. Of course we have
concerns about speed, and new compounds, constructions, new shape, but our mission is safe tyres. But anyway, itís a new challenge
Michael, the five most recent of your World Championships have come on Bridgestone tyres. Right now youíre going
through your longest winless drought since your early days in F1 with Benetton. How do you react to those challenges of getting
Ferrari back on top? How are things different from when you were on top for all those years? MS: Well, I mean itís quite
obvious what is the difference, we started most of the races quite a bit further back, except the Canadian GP, where we were on a
different strategy than most other people. Itís just a different challenge. I have to say as long as we are as competitive as we
are, and we have shown in several races like in Imola, like in Monte Carlo, where we did the fastest lap, we have the speed. We are
there in terms of speed, we just donít get it there all the time, and in particular in qualifying, because we struggle to get the
car at the right spot of the grid and to then have a good race. Most of the time we have to compromise the race a little bit for
that one lap issue in qualifying. Which then brings us into this circle which is difficult to get out of. Anyway, the most important
thing is to know that itís F1, itís a very high level of competition, you have great drivers, you have great teams. Everybody
has the same target, everybody wants to win. And we have been winning for the last five or six years, and at some stage you have to
accept that maybe somebody else can do a better job. Itís our motivation and challenge to again show that we can come back. Iím
so confident of that, I have no doubt about that. It just may take a little longer.
Mr Yasakawa, itís been reported that
Bridgestone would welcome some additional teams on its tyres in addition to Minardi, Jordan and Ferrari. Your thoughts on having
more customer teams? HY: Now we support three teams, but Iím very happy working with Ferrari, and Ferrariís co-operation
is huge, especially test wise and racing as well. And anyhow Michael helps us a lot and we have a very long relationship and we have
very good communications. But if you look at F1, 10 teams are running and now we support just three. If weíre concerned about this
imbalance, then maybe we can have one or two more teams, this is true.
Michael, youíve won three of the five races held
here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We have a new racing surface on the track this year. Bridgestone has a great record of
success. What do you look forward to in the race, given all the variables at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? MS: Thereís
only one target for us, we definitely want to win, thereís no doubt about that. We have made again certain improvements to the
car, to the tyres, and as you said thereís a new tarmac. We have to see how that sort of moves the situation, whether itís going
to bring the ball into our hand, or it gives it away a little bit further. Itís such a fine line, it can tip over one or the other
way very easily.
Some people have complained that the season is too long. Ron Dennis has said that he wants to go back to
16 races. How do you feel about that, do you really think itís too long? And would you like to race in Mexico, as they are
building a new track in Cancun? MS: If Ron doesnít want to race 19 races, he is more than welcome not to! Honestly our
season is anyway as long as it would be with 16 or 19 races, or 20 races. We start at the beginning of January, and it goes all the
way until mid-December. So whether we do a lot of racing, or a lot of testing, what is easier to prefer? I prefer to race than to
test, that is very clear. I have been in Mexico in the early nineties. I have been down there with sportscars and F1. And we had a
great time there. The circuit was a big challenge, and Iím pretty sure we have a lot of support down in Mexico, as we always have.
So I think we all would be quite happy to return.
Michael, your brother Ralf has been giving interviews in Germany
suggesting that you may be thinking of retiring at the end of this season. We know thatís not a new issue, but can you just
confirm what your plans are? MS: Keep on racing! Honestly, as long as I am competitive, and youíre happy to see me, Iíll
There have been rumours in the press that you might try to go for 10 World Championships, that you might not
retire at the end of 2006 when your contract runs out. Whatís the situation there? MS: One thing you have to know, rumours,
thatís what the press lives from. There is no such target for me. I want to enjoy it as long as I can enjoy it. I only enjoy it
when Iím competitive. I feel competitive still, and as long as this is the case, I will keep on, and whatever comes, it will come.
Honestly the main target has arrived in 2000. When the first championship has been achieved together with Ferrari, that was the main
thing. It was so exciting for all of us to achieve this goal. Ever since, everything that arrived after that, it was just a present.
Itís great, but Iím not targeting anything in particular, except running, enjoying, and getting such support as Iím getting
In the future do you see yourself keeping in the racing scene, maybe having a team, maybe being a team director
like Niki Lauda, doing something like that, or are you going to go home and just come to the Monaco GP every year or something? MS:
One thing is for sure Ė the only team director you should talk about is Jean Todt. He is working really an incredible amount. He
never lacks motivation, and he is the big pusher in the background at all times. Especially in these days heís giving more than
100%, when you sometimes think itís not possible. Honestly, I have a very good life as a race driver. I wouldnít want to swap
with him any time!
Michael, do you have any pets? MS: We have dogs, they donít go very well with cats, our dogs at
least. They are like a German Shepherd dog but a different breed, but in that direction. There are three of them, so no space for
Your wife Corinna enjoys horses, I believe? MS: Yes, she enjoys Western horses, thatís her big passion. Just
before we came to the Canadian GP, there was a two week break roughly after Nurburgring to Canada, weíve been in Montana at a
ranch. We enjoyed very much the nature, riding horses, and just being around with the kids and her. I do really appreciate very much
her main interest with horses. I love the horses too, the kids they love horses, so after racing thatís quite an important subject
that weíre spending time with.
What athlete among all sports around the world do you most admire? MS: I am a
soccer fan, but soccer is one thing. Honestly if you see what the cyclists are doing, and in particular if you see what Lance
[Armstrong] is doing, thatís very, very outstanding for me. I do quite a lot of physical preparation, and I sort of think I know
what it takes, what they are doing, and itís unbelievable what effort, what motivation, what dedication they have to have to do
How do you feel about the newest qualifying format, and would you like qualifying to go back to the old format where
everyone is on the track at once? MS: Well, I have to say I did enjoy that in the past, yes. No doubt. It was a sort of
thrill in the end of the last five minutes of the session to get out and wonder whether youíd get in that lap or not. The way the
rules are, it is simply the only choice how we could deal with the situation. On the other side, Iíve experienced that with all
the changes that weíve been doing in the last years, you never keep everybody happy. Somebody will always find a reason to
complain. To me we should have stuck where we were and maybe accepted that some people were not happy, because some people now are
Whatís the most athletically challenging course on the F1 circuit? MS: Malaysia is very, very tough for
us, and Monte Carlo in a way. Itís a different challenge. Malaysia is very hot, very humid, a lot of g-force. Our neck and body
gets really thrown around big time with all this heat. And then Monte Carlo is very demanding on the physical side, and the
concentration side. So those two circuits, they are quite tough for us.
It appears that the car and tyres werenít working
well together earlier in the year, but after a two-three finish in Montreal, do you feel like the tyre programme is back on track?
And do you feel that you can realistically challenge for the championship this year? MS: Put it this way. As I keep saying,
as long as mathematically we are in the position of fighting for the championship, we will keep on fighting, no doubt about that.
mentioned that you and your family come here to the United States. What is it about America that appeals to you as a place to visit
and vacation? MS: First of all you have great spots country wise. We just came from a tour with the bikes from Ashville up to
Indianapolis, and we stayed in this Blue Ridge Parkway area. We spent about one and half days there. Then we went to Dealerís
Point, we did this run. And that was just awesome. You have so many beautiful places to experience, and having the chance to come
here to race, I obviously want to take the opportunity and see the country.
What is it about motorcycling that appeals so
much? You were here on a bike last year as well. MS: I love biking, particularly because you just feel so free. You get the
air, you feel like youíre in the open sky. Itís like diving in a way. Thatís on the opposite side, youíre in the water, you
glide, you feel a bit like flying.
And you ride a Harley? Do you wear a helmet? MS: Yes. Yes, at all times!
Yasakawa, can you tell us why Japanese fans seem to be so passionate about F1 and Ferrari? HY: I think there are two reasons.
One is there is a young, talented driver, Takuma Sato. Heís very popular. Also we have two car manufacturers involved, which are
Toyota and Honda. Both of them are not using our tyres, but anyhow, they are very popular.
Michael, on a personal note your
generous contribution to tsunami relief is well known, a $10m donation. You and your wife have long been philanthropic, particularly
with regard to the United Nations childrenís charities and so forth. Whatís your philosophy about making those donations? MS:
It was sort of triggered, I think it was in í89 [actually 1990]. I won two races in F3, and there was very heavy prize money, it
was at the time £20,000, and it was to win both races in Macau and Fuji. They put this prize money out because they didnít expect
anyone would win both races! It did happen, by a lot of luck, to me, and it happened that I knew at some stage in the race I would
win this money. And when I knew I was going to win this money, I thought what am I going to do with that? My immediate thought was I
want to help somebody with it, and especially in the family at that time I had somebody in the family I could help big time, and I
did so. Ever since Iíve had this opportunity to be known, famous, Iíve raised through some charity auctions a lot of money, and
Iíve earned a lot of money. I feel I should do something for other people as well, thatís the main motivation.
you tell us the story of the amulet that you wear around your neck, where it came from and what it means to you? MS: Iím
not wearing it right now Ė I always wear it when I race or qualify Ė not to wear it out! The fact is my wife made this amulet,
itís a special design of hers and it has all the initials of her, the kids, and it has some symbol on it which I believe in. Thatís
what itís about. Itís not very much, it gives me a lot of luck.
Mr Yasakawa, would you tell us a bit about the
interrelationship between Bridgestoneís racing programme and its commercial relationship with manufacturers such as Ferrari? HY:
We have a very good relationship with the Ferrari racing department and also the commercial side as well. If you remember the
Ferrari Enzo was put on our tyres, 100%, tested by maybe Michael, and also now the Super America. Itís a very beautiful car, like
America, and itís also using our tyres. We have with both side a very good relationship.
Michael, right now Fernando is
in the same situation as Kimi was two years ago. He had a huge lead, and you were chipping away, and this is what you have to do if
you want to win the championship. Kimi could be a factor, and some of the other guys. Could you comment? MS: Itís obvious
that those two guys are the main contenders for the championship, and those ones are the ones to beat. Itís very simple. It would
be great if I could finally end up like in 2003.
Itís known that the more data you have, the better off you are when you
go to a race. Having so few teams working with Bridgestone tyres and not having as much data as the other brand, do you feel that
thatís more of a challenge for both of you? HY: We have a very good relationship between Ferrari and ourselves. But if we
are concerned about the future, maybe we have to be concerned about the balance. At this moment we have a very good relationship. If
some teams ask us, weíll be very welcoming, and weíll discuss.
Michael, are you looking forward to the new V8 formula
coming? MS: Put it this way, weíre trying to slow down F1 to sort of keep the safety situation at the limit. We kept on
improving speed, which we like no doubt, and you like. But on the other side, circuits are built for a certain speed. So we kept
just tipping over that edge, and thatís why we have had the changes we have seen from last year to this year. That was all the
background of it. Weíre not very successful with all these changes we have been doing, because we probably have 5-10 people
thinking about it, changing the rules, making the cars slower, but we have hundreds of engineers doing the complete opposite. Itís
pretty easy to know who wins! With this V8 engine I think finally we are going to achieve a big step, because to lose that much
power, to gain that back, itís very difficult. In my view the relationship between grip, aerodynamics, and engine power, we sort
of shifted away. We always changed tyres, aerodynamics, but we never looked at the engine. If you see what horsepower we have
arrived at, although itís great, I think the ratio should be adjusted a little bit. Iím pretty sure you wonít suffer from any
attraction of F1 with the V8 or not V8.
Have you ever thought about something youíd like to do, perhaps after F1 Ė
anything else in motor sport that youíd like to accomplish? MS: Iím not feeling that old yet! Frankly, F1 is the
ultimate. So I donít see any reason to feel challenged by any other thing. As I said Iím still feeling pretty young inside, so I
have no intention to do something different.