Spanish GP winners'' press conference

1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:33:55.390 (208.266 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +16.066 3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), +29.112 Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your third consecutive victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. You...

1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:33:55.390 (208.266 km/h)
2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +16.066
3. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), +29.112

Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your third consecutive victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. You must feel very pleased.

Mika Hakkinen: Yes. I don't know how to explain how pleased I am. I just ... over the moon.

Q. You seemed to be capable of running quicker than Michael all through the race. Were you just waiting for the pit stops?

MH: Yes, and I want to say something about my crew. The guys did a fantastic job today, the pit stops were just amazing. As you saw, they worked brilliantly when I came in the second time, at the same moment as Michael. They changed the tyres exactly as they should have done. It was a fabulous job and I want to congratulate them on some great team work.

Q. David, you're becoming something of an expert at passing Michael Schumacher. Did you have any indication that he was in trouble?

David Coulthard: Clearly, because of the speed at which I was catching him, I could see that he wasn't driving at his normal pace, so I knew he had a problem. It was then just a question of trying to use my momentum as I caught up with him, to get by. Even when someone is running two seconds a lap slower [than your own pace], it can still be quite difficult to overtake. Trying to pass him, the first manoeuvre was quite close, when he pulled to his right. I was very surprised at how late he made the decision and we came very close to touching each other. At the second attempt, when I went for the outside, I felt confident that I could overtake him. So despite me making a mistake at my first pit stop - which is why I dropped behind Ralf and Rubens - the guys made a good decision by calling me in early for the second stop, in order to get me track position after that second stop.

Q. Following your accident earlier this week, we understand that you have a couple of bruised ribs. In view of the events surrounding that accident, has it been the correct decision to climb aboard your racing car and get back down to business?

DC: Absolutely. To get in the car, to drive and to do my job, and to go away from this race with maximum points: it is the best thing that could have happened for the team and myself.

Q. Rubens, today you benefited from a fight between Michael and his brother. Would you say you owe this win to Michael?

Rubens Barrichello: Well, in a way, yes. I must admit that the race hadn't been good [for me] until that point, because there's no way to overtake here. And that was the basis of my race. I was looking forward to the pit stops, which is when I overtook David, and I was hoping to get Ralf too. But the team had a problem involving Nigel Stepney, our refueller, and then my second pit stop was quite slow. So I lost time on both my closest rivals, and I could see that my only chance [of passing Ralf] would be as we approached Michael. I was lucky to be able to pass them both.

Q. Mika, the points gap between you and Michael in the World Championship is now down to 14 points. As we go to the Nürburgring, do you consider the championship to be still wide open?

MH: As far as the championship is concerned, it is a long way to the end of the season. Anything can happen - today was a good example - and now I am looking forward to the next test and the next Grand Prix. We have a lot of work to do, but this weekend we learned a lot about this car. I believe we can make it much quicker over the rest of the season.

Q. If you intend to carry on your winning streak in Spain, you will be delighted to hear that the contract for the race here at the Circuit de Catalunya has been extended for another five years. What is it between you and this circuit?

MH: I don't know. Yes, I won here a couple of times already, but I don't know whether I drive better here than I do on other circuits. Qualifying here was normal, but I just seem to win here more than I do at other circuits.

Q. You probably knew that Michael had chosen the harder tyre for the race. Did you expect him to have trouble later in the race because of that choice?

MH: Yes. Because of our experience with the tyres during the test, we understood them very well. When Michael started struggling I don't know whether it was because of the tyres or because of some technical reason. But certainly he was sliding all over the road in the low speed corners. That gave me the opportunity to catch him. Also, I was much quicker than him under braking, so I was catching him there too. But if you ask me why I didn't pass him on the road, the answer is very simple: it's because of the aerodynamics here. [Behind another car], in the corners you lose all your downforce and you have to maintain your speed [without it]. It means that on the way out of a corner you always lose a couple of tenths. That makes it impossible to overtake when you get to the end of the straights

Q. David, well done. At the beginning of the race you were caught behind Ralf. Was your only hope then to watch and wait?

DC: I always try to keep going as fast as I can and hassle the driver of the car in front. The ideal move is to be able to pass the driver in front of you on the track instead of having to wait for the pit stop. Ralf was locking up wheels quite a lot and I thought that maybe I had a chance of being able to slip past him. But I thought he was running lighter on fuel, because his acceleration on the way out of corners was a little bit better than I had. That was confirmed when he came in early for his first pit stop. But then, in an attempt to cover his moves, and because the team can see [better than the driver] where other traffic is on the circuit, they called me in early.

Q. Why did you lose time at that first stop?

DC: I made a mistake, I didn't see First Gear Select [on the read-out], so I pulled again [on the gear change paddle] and ended up selecting second gear. That meant I couldn't pull away [as fast as I would have done in first gear], and it's why I lost track position to Ralf and to Rubens. In clean air, though, I could run quickly, and I caught them up again. For the second pit stop, I got a good call from [my race engineer], Pat Fry, and that gave me the track position to get ahead again. Today we only deserved to be 3rd, so I was happy to take the gift that was offered to me when Michael had his problem. Nonetheless, 2nd place is good for me, and it's great to see the team finish 1-2.

Q. Please allow me to ask how badly hurt you were at the start of the weekend. How well have your injuries help up?

DC: I do have some injury to both my sides. Driving a Grand Prix car is not [the best treatment], so that [damage] has got worse each day. Andy and Heidi have got better each day, while I have got worse, so I am looking forward to having a few days' rest. I may not do the test [at Jerez] this week, in order to allow myself to recover.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren