European GP Bridgestone Qualifying Review

Nurburgring, September/ 25/ 1999 Frentzen thrills his German fans with pole position Wet conditions hampered fast times for most drivers throughout almost forty minutes of qualifying at the Nurburgring today. However, with the surface drying ...

Nurburgring, September/ 25/ 1999 Frentzen thrills his German fans with pole position

Wet conditions hampered fast times for most drivers throughout almost forty minutes of qualifying at the Nurburgring today. However, with the surface drying rapidly in the final twenty minutes of the session, an intense battle for pole position developed between the drivers of the McLaren and Jordan teams and Williams driver Ralf Schumacher. Somewhat to his own surprise, the winner was to be Monza winner Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who had lost almost two hours of running with mechanical problems on both Friday and Saturday. The popular 32 year old from Moenchengladbach was fractionally faster than McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen, setting up what promises to be a fascinating strategic race tomorrow as Eddie Irvine strives to stay on terms with Hakkinen in their struggle for the 1999 FIA Drivers' World Championship.

Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "This morning everyone was working on finding a setup to suit the Extra Soft tyre in the race, but once it had started raining several teams decided it might be better to stay on the Soft compound. That was the final selection of several teams. Even in drying conditions during qualifying, however, the Extra Soft worked well and those who had chosen Soft suffered a little. If it is dry tomorrow, we expect that the users of the Extra Soft will need to scrub their tyres before they use them in the race."

Sam Michael, Heinz Herald Frentzen's Engineer: "We have had a lot of problems with the reliability of the car, yesterday with the gearbox and today with the engine, so we didn't get much running. As a result of that we didn't have a good wet setup, so it was fortunate for us that the track dried out this afternoon. I think our timing was spot-on, too, although Heinz decided to come in for a late change of tyres. Fortunately we had put in enough fuel for a longer run, so it was just a question of putting on a fresh set of dry tyres and sending him out again. It wasn't like a regular race pit-stop, when we're ready for him to come, but the mechanics worked really well. It's going to be interesting to see what strategies our rivals chose for the race, and what tyres they have chosen, but our objective is to go for an outright win."

Craig Wilson, Ralf Schumacher's engineer: "For most of the past two days we have been trying to find which tyre is best suited to the track in dry conditions, so when it rained after this morning's free practice everything was thrown out of order. With the track suddenly wet, it was a gamble choosing the right moment to go out on the dry tyre which we had chosen. We seem to have chosen the right time for Ralf to make his last run, although it now looks as though he should have left it just a little bit later. However, there could have been yellow flags or heavy traffic, so we are not too unhappy to be in 4th place. If the forecast proves to be correct, this race is likely to be decided by strategy and by the correct use of dry and wet tyres. We still have some hard thinking to do about it."

TEMPERATURES    AIR             TRACK           WEATHER 
Morning         14:-14:         14:-15:         Cloudy - dry    
Afternoon       15:-17:         17:-19:         Wet to dry

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard
Teams McLaren , Williams , Jordan