Saturday 25 July 1998 Qualifying: 1. Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife 1:29.598 2. Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas 1:30.317 3. Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes ...
Saturday 25 July 1998
Qualifying: 1. Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife 1:29.598 2. Jean Alesi Sauber-Petronas 1:30.317 3. Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.517
Q. Giancarlo, many congratulations on snatching the first pole position of your career in the closing seconds of this wet qualifying session. What does it mean to you?
GF: I can hardly believe this. Before qualifying started I was a little worried about the wet conditions. In the dry conditions I was already quite pleased with my car and my target was to be starting the race from [somewhere on] the first three rows. But here I am on pole! I enjoy driving in the wet and I am hoping that tomorrow we will have the same conditions for the race. Why not? It will still be a difficult race tomorrow, and now I want to get on the podium or at least pick up some points.
Q. Nobody went out at all until halfway through the session. Did you start qualifying on intermediate tyres?
GF: No, it was too wet for us at the beginning to use the full-wet Bridgestone tyres. I also spun twice, but I was lucky [not to do too much damage]. Then I went into the pits for a second set of the same tyres, and in the last few laps the circuit conditions were much better.
Q. Whose decision was it to stay out until the last minute?
GF: I was third after three or four laps, and my engineer, after my spin, called me to say 'Giancarlo, do you want to change tyres or do you want to stay until the end?' I asked him if there was time, and he told me yes, and I said I'll come in and we will change tyres.
Q. Jean, this is the best ever qualifying position for a Sauber ...
JA: I don't know about that, but after the collision [between me and Johnny during the race] at Silverstone this is fantastic for the team. We were thinking about taking at least another three points, but now -- from this position on the grid -- I am really excited about tomorrow's Grand Prix.
Q. In the dry, you have looked strong all through the weekend. Did you feel even more confident when you saw the rain falling before the session?
JA: No, because the car felt quite good in dry conditions, and the rain always means you have to gamble. But when it came to having to go and do it [in the rain], under 100 per cent pressure, everything went very well for me.
Q. Is there a crucial difference between the wet tyres from Bridgestone and Goodyear?
JA: It is difficult to say, in fact without a back-to-back test it is impossible [to know] which is better. At the moment I can say that the Goodyear tyre works extremely well, and obviously we are pleased about that. Seeing the conditions of our tyres after this morning's session, I am quite confident [about my chances in a dry race].
Q. Because your car has been good both in wet and dry conditions, which would you prefer for the race?
JA: I have more chance if it is wet. But I don't think it would be very nice for the public, although it could be very exciting [for themm] if it is a wet race.
Q. Mika, with both Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard behind you on the grid, you must surely be pleased with this third place today?
MH: To be honest, I am not happy. I would prefer to be first, and that was my target at the beginning of the qualifying session. But conditions were actually more difficult than I had expected, and going round the first and second corners it was very slippery indeed. It was difficult to find confidence under braking because it was so easy to lose the rear end going into corners, because of the rubber there. I am quite disappointed with today's result ...
Q. Tomorrow, do you think you will be able to find a way past the two guys in front of you?
MH: In today's Formula 1 overtaking is never easy -- and I don't believe it ever has been easy. In front of me there is one very experienced driver -- Jean Alesi -- who is a tough racer. Between us, it all depends on the speed of our cars, and on what happens during the race. Then there's this guy Fisichella here, on pole position. He hasn't been in F1 for very long and I think that it's going to be good for him to be starting from the front. He's going to find that it's the best place to be! I don't see any difficulties in overtaking him, though, because he is a very fair driver.