European Grand Prix - 1st October Just like Ferrari's Jean Alesi, who led most of the race, the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team had chosen to start the race on slicks and opted for one pit stop strategy. Unfortunately, both Mika...
European Grand Prix - 1st October
Just like Ferrari's Jean Alesi, who led most of the race, the Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team had chosen to start the race on slicks and opted for one pit stop strategy. Unfortunately, both Mika Hakkinen and Mark Blundell had disappointing starts and were running 15th and 16th by the end of lap 1. They dropped back further in the early part of the race, and Mark was in 21st position when he retired on lap 16 after hitting the barrier. Later on, as the track dried out, Mika moved up from 20th to eighth place, a position held until the finish.
Mika Hakkinen: "It was impossible to keep the car balanced in the conditions that prevailed in the early part of the race. The car was unforgiving and very sensitive to the temperature changes, making it impossible to generate lap times and speed. As the track started to dry, I was able to go faster, but climbing back from 20th place was very difficult. I had a slight problem with engine temperature early on which made me a bit nervous, but otherwise it performed well from start to finish. Our pit stop went fine. Now we have to study what happened."
Mark Blundell: "Alesi went by me on slick tyres and I followed him through the third gear right-hander onto the back straight. I was running quite close to him, but then the car understeered up behind him onto the kerb, and bottomed out whilst on it. The car went on the wet grass and I had no control over it. I spun, hit the barrier and bounced back out. I am particularly disappointed because our performance in the race conditions was not good at all."
Norbert Haug: "The cars were obviously difficult to drive, as described by the drivers. Mark spun and Mika lost a lot of time in the damp conditions. In the dry conditions, it was much better but definitively not good enough. We have to improve in the next three races."
Ron Dennis: "It is easy to be wise after the event, but Alesi demonstrated that starting on slicks could have been the right strategy to win the race. Unfortunately, our calculated decision, which everybody participated in, proved to be wrong. Surprisingly, the ciruit never dried up completely, making it an eventful race for everybody."