Pole position press conference - Saturday 11 March 2000 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:30.556s 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:30.910s 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) - 1:31.075s Q. Congratulations, Mika, on taking the...
Pole position press conference - Saturday 11 March 2000
1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:30.556s
2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:30.910s
3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) - 1:31.075s
Q. Congratulations, Mika, on taking the first pole position of the new season. After losing virtually all of this morning's session, are you surprised to be here?
Mika Hakkinen: Well, naturally yes ... after hardly not running at all this morning. For one thing it is very difficult to go directly into qualifying, and then also because you have no time to have set the car up.
Q. Instead of four runs of three laps, today you did two runs of six laps. Was that something you had tried in testing?
MH: In testing we certainly tried several different things. The tyres are slightly different this year and I think we have managed to do a good job of getting the best out of the tyres. I am very pleased about that.
Q. David, at the end of the session we saw you crashing backwards into the barrier. Are you OK? What happened?
David Coulthard: Yes, I am fine thanks. I just lost the back end. I had been struggling throughout the session with understeer and I was trying to make up time. But we had run out of time to make any more adjustments.
Q. The crash came at a very convenient moment to deprive Michael of any chance of taking pole position ...
DC: Well, obviously that wasn't my intention! It is better to have a completely trouble-free session, because then you get to see everybody's performance. And that's the way it worked out today.
Q. Yesterday and in the first part of this morning's session you were looking very quick, but this afternoon you seem to have been losing time. Was there a reason for that?
DC: The balance of the car had shifted towards more push. We had made an adjustment for the second run, and we were confident that it was going to give an improvement, but it didn't seem to change the car too much. We had then run out of time to make any more adjustments, so it could have gone any way.
Q. Michael, you must have mixed feelings. You seem to have a car which was capable of taking pole position, but you had to abort a couple of runs, and then you had both red and yellow flags to contend with ...
Michael Schumacher: Yes, and that's the reason I am not too frustrated. I did one run and got one quick lap, but I believe we didn't get the best out of the tyres. These [McLaren] guys showed us what is probably a better way to do that. But I am not worried, honestly, because it doesn't matter for the race whether you start from first place or third. It is going to be a long, hard race. We'll see where we are [when it's over].
Q. Ferrari seems to have done more mileage in these first two days of practice and qualifying. Do you feel that you are in a good position as regards race setup?
MS: I feel quite comfortable. As you see, the times are very close and I believe we had a good opportunity today to be on pole. If you compare that to [Ferrari's performances here in] previous years, it is certainly a big improvement. Tomorrow I believe we are going to be very strong.
Q. The temperatures here have been considerably higher than anything you have experienced in winter testing at home in Italy. Are you confident about the potential reliability of the car here in Australia?
MS: Quite, yes. You can somehow simulate hot car temperatures, whether or not it is hot outside is only a secondary effect. I remember that we didn't have a problem with that last year -- and I don't expect any difficulties this year.
Q. Mika, both you and David are looking rather hotter than Michael does. Does your car generate a lot of heat?
MH: Yeah. They (Ferrari) must have air conditioning or something in there. We don't - and it's very hot.
Q. On several occasions in the past we have seen team orders imposed by McLaren in order to preserve reliability, usually with a ruling that you and David must hold the positions you stand in at the first corner. Will we again be seeing that this year?
MH: Yes and no. There are always tactics and planning prepared before the race. I wouldn't call them orders, but we will have tactics tomorrow to help the team -- and David and me -- to get the best possible results from this Grand Prix.
Q. Mika, after an engine change and the various other setbacks you have seen today, is there any tension inside the McLaren-Mercedes team?
MH: Not really. I was surprised to have had this problem this morning, in fact everybody on the team was surprised, and the mechanics did some fantastic work to change engines on both cars so quickly. I didn't see any tensions inside the team at all. Before qualifying we made quite a radical change to the car, which also raised a question mark over whether the car would work well or not. I had confidence in the engineers, though, and they gave me the car that was good enough to take pole position. The car was quite close in the first run and it only needed fine tuning for the final attempt. I think we could have gone quicker, but with yellow flags I knew it was best to respect them and slow down.
Q. David, you have gone from accident to press conference in 11 minutes, which must be some kind of a record ...
DC: Yes, but it's better to be here than not to be here. We lost a lot of time [with engine trouble] this morning, and that meant we couldn't be sure of getting on to the front row. Although we made it, I am not happy to have dropped the car and done so much damage. But sometimes unless you push hard and go beyond the limit, then you don't know where [the limit] is. I was just hoping the car would spin [harmlessly] down the middle of the track, like it did yesterday, but I didn't quite manage it this time.