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Bahrain: Qualifying Press Conference

NEWS STORY
11/03/2006

Welcome back Michael, your first pole since Hungary ’05.
Michael Schumacher: Yeah, I’ve had to wait a long time to get back up here. Hard work in the meantime, an amazing result. All winter we knew that we seemed to have a good package but then you wait, very strongly for the final confirmation and here and now we have the confirmation for all the hard work. Every engineer, every mechanic has been giving everything to put us back up here and it’s the best way to pay back all our guys. There’s such a great feeling and emotion. It’s been too long ago, too long time ago.

And a bit of a race there with your team mate, 31.5s and then a 31.4s for the pole.
MS: Yeah, absolutely. It was very obvious right from the beginning and even before: Ferrari - not without reason - took the decision to take Felipe on board. We knew about his qualities and today he has proven them. It’s a great combination. We’re getting on very well, very focused and I hope the success story will continue after a year’s break.

There was non-stop action from the outside; what was it like from your point of view? Sixth in the first two periods and then pole in the third.
MS: Yeah, it has been very exciting, particularly in the first session as we wanted to leave it towards the end, then we had the red flag and we just got in the one lap in which it would have been very easy to make a mistake. From hero to zero wasn’t very much at that moment. The second session was a little bit more straightforward: just be safe and play to stay in the top ten and then we had a good concept and a way to arrange ourselves to go for pole position. The team has worked very well. We have had some struggles over the winter, we couldn’t do the whole programme that we sometimes wanted to do, but nevertheless we came here very focused, very concentrated and very organised.

Felipe, turning to you, not only on the front row but the first time that you’ve ever qualified in the top three as well.
Felipe Massa: Yeah, I’m really happy for that. I would say I’m very happy to be with the Ferrari team and feel comfortable here. It’s amazing how the team works and I knew from the first test I did that it was going to be a much more competitive year for me, to show what I can do and it was definitely a great start. I was really happy to be in the top two in the first race of the season. As for my lap, I’m really happy to be second, but honestly, I have to thank Giancarlo (Fisichella) because he took away my pole position, because I was going to improve my lap time on the last run and I hit traffic, but anyway, great start. Hopefully we can always do this kind of qualifying and I think it’s a great start for me, for everybody in the team.

Jenson, you’ve been looking strong all winter and strong now: P3.
Jenson Button: Yeah, it’s quite interesting, the new qualifying system. I’m sure for the spectators and it is for us. It’s always go, you’re always doing something and it turned out reasonably well for us. It’s quite difficult to get clean runs, especially in the last session which I think we all struggled to do a little bit, but I think that our strategy was very good in doing two sets of new tyres and yeah, it’s good to be in the top three and hopefully we can improve on this tomorrow.

What were the conditions actually like in that traffic period at the end, and also given the wind conditions today?
JB: It was pretty difficult out there today with the wind. It’s coming from a completely different direction from yesterday. There’s a lot of sand on the circuit, so it’s very difficult to be consistent and when you’re trying to do a fast lap on the edge, it’s tough. But that’s what it’s all about, and it’s great to be third. It’s been a tough winter, very very long but very good for us and I think we will show that tomorrow.

Michael, obviously a different format for the race tomorrow, tyre changing coming back into Formula One. Your thoughts on that?
MS: I think it makes racing a little bit more interesting. You drive more on the edge, you push harder, you fight, you overtake, you take a little bit more risk so it’s a good thing.

Press Conference

Michael, a busy hour - or just over - did the strategies work out pretty much as you expected?
MS: Obviously nobody could have expected the red flag in the first session and the session to be stopped. Except for that, I guess it was pretty normal.

Nothing’s normal at the moment, it’s all pretty much up in the air, isn’t it?
MS: I’m pretty sure that the guys on TV who have to commentate on all this and explain it to the fans have had a hard job.

Do you think we are going to see you do two stops for tyres in every race?
MS: We will certainly stop more than we have been doing last year, no doubt! (Laughter)

I meant in qualifying…
MS: That depends very much on the strategy you think you need to apply to your own needs, honestly. We chose that strategy.

Of course, the question is how many sets of tyres have you got left now?
MS: Enough!

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