After a tense and exciting qualifying session throughout which Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher exchanged fastest times, it was the Ferrari driver who emerged quickest after Hakkinen was forced off the road as he prepared to start his...
After a tense and exciting qualifying session throughout which Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher exchanged fastest times, it was the Ferrari driver who emerged quickest after Hakkinen was forced off the road as he prepared to start his final run. Hakkinen's world championship rival Eddie Irvine was involved in a violent crash which forced him to take the T-car. Irvine, who escaped unhurt, will start the race from 5th place on the grid, with a promise from Schumacher to give him all the help he needs.
Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "The Soft compound, which had an advantage of approximately 0.3 second compared with the Medium, was the popular choice of the day. The high rate of degradation that we saw on the softer compound throughout the weekend will probably be more controlled tomorrow. However, some teams did not find a good setup immediately, forcing them to use tyres which would normally have been reserved for the race. Given the anticipated high rate of rubber degradation, this will mean that some drivers will have to start the race on scrubbed tyres."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director, Ferrari Team: "There are several permutations of result that we will need tomorrow to ensure that Eddie takes the championship. The ideal would be for Michael to win, with Eddie in 4th place or better. It is worth bearing in mind that overtaking has always been difficult here, which means that race strategy will play a vital role. As far as tyres are concerned, we have seen less degradation today than yesterday and it won't be possible to make an accurate judgment on tyre strategy until tonight or maybe even tomorrow, after the warm-up."
Steve Hallam, Technical Director, West McLaren Mercedes: "One day to go in the 1999 World Championships and still everything to play for! So far the only blemish on a good weekend was the damage to David's car yesterday, which has been very effectively repaired overnight. Mika has been having a good weekend and we felt that he had a good chance of taking pole position until his final run was curtailed by an incident for which Alesi was clearly to blame. With the forecast of good weather and with everybody on the Soft tyre there are now fewer variables for us to worry about. From our point of view we are back here under the same sorts of pressure that we experienced at Suzuka last year. I am hoping that we see a fair battle tomorrow."