Post race winners' press conference: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1hr 30m 44.086s (202.777 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 5.3 seconds behind 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 39.1 seconds behind Q.
Post race winners' press conference: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1hr 30m 44.086s (202.777 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 5.3 seconds behind 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 39.1 seconds behind
Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your impeccable race and a return to the top of the podium which you've been waiting for since Monaco. How did you manage to make it look so convincing?
MH: The team played a very important part in this race, especially with the tactics which we had worked out together. The strategy we chose was to make just one fuel stop, and that was definitely ideal for me. I was able to charge and go flat out all the time: no problems for me today.
Q. You made a fantastic start. Was that expected?
MH: The start is always a bit of a gamble and at the end of the day you can never know how it is going to work out. This time I had Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella ahead of me, and because I had no idea how well they would start, I just did the best I could possibly do -- and it definitely worked. I simply kept my foot down, I got good traction from the Bridgestones and I overtook them both before the first corner.
Q. That was a great battle which you and Michael had for the first 14 laps. Were you confident about being able to hold him off?
MH: Yes, although I had some problems with the brakes which meant I wasn't able to go as hard into the corners as I would have liked to go at the beginning of the race. At that time Michael was almost catching me, but then I managed to get the brakes balanced, and a more consistent balance in the tyres. So then I was able to charge, and the gap started to open out until Michael ran wide. After that the gap was definitely big.
Q. David, your last podium appearance was five races ago, in Spain. It doesn't require much imagination to know how you feel at this moment ...
DC: It's even longer since Mika was last on the podium! It's great to be back, especially given that I had such a bad qualifying position yesterday. None of us would have expected me to be so far back on the grid, but in conditions [like yesterday's] you have to be on the ball -- and I wasn't -- so I started a long way back. After the start and the second corner accident [which damaged my car] I was very lucky that there was a Safety Car period, which allowed me to go into the pits to change the front wing and [get back into the race] at the back of the pack. When you have a car that is as good as my car is, it makes it quite easy to overtake. I want to compliment all the drivers that I overtook today, because they were 100 per cent fair and absolutely committed in selecting the lines they wanted -- and sticking to them. This was a good, clean motor race.
Q. There was one moment, with about 25 laps to go, when you suddenly lost four or five seconds. You had already got through all the traffic, and Eddie Irvine was catching you again. What happened there?
DC: After I had made my refuelling stop and taken the second set tyres, the car wasn't working quite as well as it did before. But I knew that Eddie was making two stops to my one, so I was playing around with lap times to try to find the most consistent pace at which to run. It was when I tried to push a little bit again that I ran wide at Turn 6 and got on to the marbles. I preferred to let the car run wide on to the grass rather than take any gamble by trying to pull it back. That may have cost me a little time, but it was the safest option in guaranteeing that I kept second place.
Q. Michael, third place must be quite a good result today -- considering that you were virtually out of the race at one point.
MS: Yes, the way our car resisted that 'off,' it must be as tough as a truck, because I was quite high in the air. I certainly thought it was greater damage [than it was]. There was enough damage anyway to have to do one lap without the front wing on my way in, which cost me a lot of time. It was a stupid mistake by myself. I went off the line, and off the line there is so much dust that you have no chance, you just run wide. After that I had a great pitstop from the guys, they changed a wing, I went back into the race 16th and now I have finished third. It was quite a nice challenge, especially when my second pitstop finished because then I was back behind various cars which I had only just overtaken. I had to re-overtake them again. In that sense it was quite exciting.
Q. You seemed to catch up pretty quickly after changing your nose cone, but one person who caused you a certain amount of trouble was your brother Ralf ...
MS: Yes, he was obviously fast, and he is there to race, not to give me any presents. He works for a different team, and he fought all the way to the end. He did it in a fair way. After the driver's briefing there was an arrangement [between all the drivers] that we would change line only once [when being overtaken]. Ralf did it perfectly, he only moved over once. I had the outside free, which wasn't the nice line. But at the next corner I had more acceleration and caught him on the next straight. It was perfect.
Q. You caught and passed Eddie Irvine quite quickly at the end. Was that a team strategy?
MS: No, we had a brake problem. We were very marginal on brakes, both of us. Eddie seemed to be a bit worse than me, and the team asked us to slow down. At one stage I was able to overtake Eddie then.
Q. Mika, you go to Hockenheim 8 points ahead of Michael. What will your tactics be there?
MH: The race continues, basically. I'm sure there are going to be some more exciting races [between] now and the end of the season. I'm extremely positive about it. The team is working extremely hard. They have already made great progress with the car, including the engine, and the tyre development goes on all the time with Bridgestone. So I'm looking forward to going to Hockenheim.