26 May: European Grand Prix - FIA Wednesday Press Conference
BUTTON (BAR) Nick HEIDFELD (Williams) Michael SCHUMACHER (Ferrari) Ralf SCHUMACHER (Toyota)
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
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.
Q: 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!
Q: So, in a way that is good, in a way that’s an improvement. MS:
Q: 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.
Q: 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
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.
Q: 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 realise it.
Q: 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 tyres at the last race, so that is not
going to make things easier.
Q: 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.
FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (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.
Q: (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.
Q: (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.
Q: (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
Q: (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 manoeuvre.
You just have to watch it and then discuss it. It is not that easy.
Q: (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)
Q: 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.
Q: (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.
Q: (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. Q: 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.
Q: (Dusko Dragic – Ekipa) Last year the director of the Nürburgring circuit organised 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 realise 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.