Michael Schumacher feels empty, exhausted, but proud after clinching his sixth world title and Rubens Barrichello ranks the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix as one of the best races of his life.
Michael Schumacher feels “empty, exhausted, but proud” after clinching his sixth world title and Rubens Barrichello ranks the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix as one of the best races of his life.
Speaking immediately after the race, Schumacher admitted that the feeling of winning a record number of F1 titles had yet to sink in, because of the unusual manner in which the Ferrari star claimed the crown.
The German, starting from 14th on the grid, had a messy race, losing his front-wing after clashing with Takuma Sato early on. He battled through the field to eighth, only to be bumped from behind by his brother Ralf. But Schumacher came through to claim a solitary point, all he needed to do to clinch the title.
"I think it is very strange for me," said Shumacher, "because most of my championships I have won with a victory, and here and now, I'm winning a championship with eighth position, which is the last of the points. So, it's a mixed emotion.
"I was a little bit messy today after having a little incident. It was one of my toughest races. To come back and fight through the traffic with all that was happening (Schumacher locked his brakes and had to swerve when Toyota’s Cristiano da Matta blocked the German’s overtaking manoeuvre at the hairpin. Ralf, whose Williams was right the battle, then clipped the Ferrari’s rear).
It was a very, very strange race. Therefore, the feeling hasn't yet sunk in. I can feel for the team, but I can't feel for myself at the moment. I'm empty, I'm exhausted. I'm just proud of what we all have achieved," the German added.
On the topic of beating Juan-Manuel Fangio’s record of five world titles, Schumacher said: "I'm not trying to compare myself with Fangio. This man is greater than I see myself. You can't take a personality like Fangio and compare him with what has happened today. There is not even the slightest comparison."
Fangio won five titles and an incredible 24 of his 51 Grands Prix. "What he did stands for itself and what we do today is unique in another way," added Schumacher.
Meanwhile, Japanese Grand Prix winner Barrichello felt that his performance throughout the season had been better than it was in 2002, when he finished second in the championship and won four races. By comparison, the Brazilian finished fourth in this year's drivers' championship, having taken two victories.
"Along with Silverstone this year (where he also won), there are the two best races of my life," said Barrichello. "All the team, the engineers and mechanics have done a fantastic job to give us a car with such reliability. My race was very tough until the final stages when I could ease up a bit.
"I think I have had a much better year in terms of my performance, compared to last year, when I had more points and was higher in the championship," the Brazilian added.