Melbourne, March/ 06/ 1999 1999 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING Hakkinen snatches last-minute quick lap to maintain his championship form The West-McLaren-Mercedes drivers provided some thrilling entertainment for the large crowd of...
Melbourne, March/ 06/ 1999 1999 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING
Hakkinen snatches last-minute quick lap to maintain his championship form
The West-McLaren-Mercedes drivers provided some thrilling entertainment for the large crowd of spectators at Melbourne's Albert Park today by swapping fast laps in the closing moments of qualifying. When the chequered flag fell it was David Coulthard's name at the top of the timing screens, but at that moment world champion Mika Hakkinen had already started his final run. In his one remaining flying lap, the Finn snatched fastest time away from Coulthard to repeat his 1998 pole position. The grid for the race will be the same as it was last year, with Michael Schumacher in 3rd place for Ferrari. Since the 1999 new spec tyres are very consistent in their performance, some of the teams ran only one set of tyres throughout the qualifying session.
Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "Congratulations to Mika on his pole position and to McLaren for providing the excitement in the first qualifying session of the season. Today's results prove that the teams which had run on our tyres last year and who know our tyres well were able to find a better setup for their cars. It can be difficult to use qualifying tyres to their best advantage on this Melbourne circuit, but now that everyone has gained experience with our tyres it is possible that the race will be closer than some people were expecting. Nevertheless, we will probably have to wait until the next round of the championship in Brazil before every team can be expected to have become familiar with the Bridgestones."
Ross Brawn, Ferrari Team Technical Director: "Today's situation is probably due to the fact we do not have a lot of experience with the Bridgestone tyres. This is our first time with Bridgestone in a warm climate and we have a lot to learn about how to use the tyres properly. McLaren was able to do a better job today. We just have to think about how to improve our performance. The tyres were very consistent and tomorrow I believe everyone will be making only one or two pit stops. Although we are obviously not completely happy with third and sixth places on the grid, today is only the beginning."
Adrian Newey, West McLaren Mercedes Technical Director: "We have run through the whole of qualifying with only one whole set of tyres per driver because new tyres seemed not to bring a lot of advantage. Although we obtained a good result, we do not get any points for qualifying!"
TEMPERATURES AIR TRACK WEATHER Morning 21:-22: 29:-33: Sunny - dry Afternoon 32:-28: 38:-37: Sunny - dry