Belgian GP winners' press conference

1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:28:14.494 (208.467 km/h) 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), +1.103 3. Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW), +38.096 Q. Mika, that was a thrilling race to watch. What was it like to be part of it, and to win ...

1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:28:14.494 (208.467 km/h)
2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), +1.103
3. Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW), +38.096

Q. Mika, that was a thrilling race to watch. What was it like to be part of it, and to win it?

Mika Hakkinen: Well, it was incredible (laughs). It was ... very difficult, with some unusual situations, including my spin, which were obviously not planned. But the kerbs here at Spa are very, very difficult and slippery. When they catch you, there's really nothing you can do. I was lucky to stay on the track and [to be able] to continue. Then I could start chasing Michael. It was a fabulous race to drive, very enjoyable, and the car was [getting] better and better all the time.

Q. You made up for the spin with a spectacular and heart-stopping overtaking manoeuvre on Michael before the complex at Les Combes. Please talk us through that ...

MH: Yes. That was a ... kind of different one. It is unusual for a driver to overtake somebody in a straight line when a backmarker is in between us. I knew that there was no point in following Michael and then trying to overtake him at the end of the straight because obviously he wouldn't have given me room. Is that correct, [Michael]?

Michael Schumacher: (smiles) Yes, I think so.

MH: So I switched to Plan B, and [on the next lap] I went completely to the inside ... and overtook the backmarker at the same time as I overtook Michael. I [got a] tow also from the backmarker, so that gave me some extra speed. It was a great overtaking manoeuvre. And I loved it. I am not sure if Michael did ...

Q. Michael, we saw you moving to the right on the climb up to Les Combes, obviously to cool your tyres. Was that the reason why Mika caught you up?

MS: No, it was not the reason. Actually it helped me a little bit to go away from him in the first part of the race, as I was building up my lead. But later on that was not enough, because he was flying towards me. [With him] being so much faster, there was nothing that could have helped me.

Q. We've just talked with Mika about the overtaking move. How was it from your point of view?

MS: Obviously I was quite happy to see the backmarker in front of me, because from what the team was telling me I knew I was a lot slower [than Mika] on straight-line speed. [With my car] being in the slipstream of the guy in front of me, I thought [Mika would not have] enough straight-line speed to catch me. Once there is somebody on the same bit of road as you, normally only two cars will fit on it next to each other. But Mika made a really outstanding manoeuvre to pass on the inside there. It was unexpected from my side, but, honestly, if he hadn't caught me there he would have caught me one or two laps later because he was too fast down there. You are allowed to change your line once and he would have taken me on the outside. I tried my best. It was not enough today, but we got six points and we are keeping the championship alive, even though we made it a little more difficult [for ourselves] today. But we will keep going for it. It is not the end now.

Q. Ralf, today the ever-improving Williams scored its second podium place of the year. As the season draws in, do you think you might even be able to take a win?

Ralf Schumacher: We certainly thought we could be close today, in rain conditions. [Wet conditions give] us the only relatively good chance [we have] to be close to the front, I thought. But today we saw that Mika was outstandingly quick, certainly compared to anybody else, so that was not possible. We're working on it, obviously. We are definitely the third team in the world championship now and we will try to stay there, by getting some more podium finishes and good points.

Q. You didn't have much time in the warm-up this morning to get your car adjusted from dry to wet conditions. How did it behave in the mixed wet/dry conditions in the race?

RS: We were prepared for the rain, so we had a medium set-up. It was pretty good: except for the two guys in front of us, and some others just before they pitted, we were relatively quick. Four or five laps from the end I had a little bit of a problem with the throttle, which made me feel the race was over [for me]. I went into a turn and nothing happened anymore. It felt like I was out of fuel, but luckily it came back to life and held on to the end.

Q. Mika, in two weeks we will be in Ferrari territory again, at Monza. Do you think you will be able to silence the tifosi and keep your lead in the championship?

MH: We will be testing at Monza next week, which will be important, particularly because the circuit has been modified. There will be some learning to be done on the first day, to understand that new first corner and get the best out of it. Once we have finished the test days I hope that we will be able to find the best setup to take back to Monza and the Italian Grand Prix. I am looking at all the possibilities [there are for us] to be quick, and to be challenging for podium places there or even, let's hope, to be winning. But now it's better to enjoy this Grand Prix and to start concentrating tomorrow on the next Grand Prix.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams