Japanese GP Bridgestone Friday Practice Report

Suzuka, October/29/1998 1998 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - PRACTICE A SITUATION WHICH IS BETTER THAN IT APPEARS ... The duel between Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher for the 1998 world drivers' championship got off to a close start this...

Suzuka, October/29/1998

1998 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX - PRACTICE

A SITUATION WHICH IS BETTER THAN IT APPEARS ...

The duel between Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher for the 1998 world drivers' championship got off to a close start this morning, when Hakkinen narrowly outpaced his Ferrari rival in the first session of practice at the Suzuka circuit. The afternoon produced an apparently much less promising situation as Schumacher seized the initiative, leaving Hakkinen and his West-McLaren-Mercedes team mate David Coulthard in 5th and 6th places. However, it was made clear by Hakkinen's engineers that a small mistake on his final run had prejudiced what promised to be a much faster time. Well worthy of note was the excellent showing of Jos Verstappen, who took full advantage of his local knowledge to post 9th fastest time of the day for Stewart Grand Prix, ahead of the Benettons of Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz.

Hirohide Hamashima, Technical Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Although this result doesn't look too good for McLaren and Bridgestone, we know that a mistake cost Mika what promised to be the fastest time in today's practice. David Coulthard is still struggling with the handling, so we will be looking for a solution overnight which will help him improve in qualifying. The temperatures today - 23 degrees air and 30 on the track - are very similar to those we experienced during final testing at Barcelona. That means everything is going to plan so far."

Steve Hallam, Chief engineer, West McLaren Mercedes: "Unfortunately Mika lost some time on his final run this afternoon and the lap times we see are not representative of the car's full potential. We have already covered a lot of laps and we believe we understand where we stand with the new Bridgestone tyres. We feel comfortable with the situation and look forward to consolidating our performance tomorrow."

TEMPERATURES        AIR        TRACK        TRACK CONDITIONS
Morning                25:-23:        31:-31:        Bright - dry
Afternoon        23:-30:        23:-28:        Bright - dry

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Alexander Wurz
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Benetton , Stewart Grand Prix