British GP "Top Three" Qualifiers Interview

British Grand Prix Silverstone Saturday 11 July 1998 Qualifying: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:23.271s; 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:23.720s; 3. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome), 1:24.102s Q. Congratulations...

British Grand Prix Silverstone

Saturday 11 July 1998

Qualifying: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:23.271s; 2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:23.720s; 3. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome), 1:24.102s

Q. Congratulations on your pole, Mika. We saw you make what appeared to be only two full runs this afternoon. Why was that?

MH: In fact I had three runs, but just for security I went out for a final fourth run. I was just waiting for information from the team, to know whether I should start pushing on the fourth set of tyres. The team was fantastic: they talked me all through the run, keeping me informed all the time about what was happening [with other drivers], and in the end I was able to save that set of tyres. I did the normal number of laps, but in qualifying the fastest time came on the first set.

Q. Since last Friday, Bridgestone produced and shipped some completely new tyres here for you to use. Were you happy with those tyres?

MH: I am quite pleased. Anything better is always welcome, but the Bridgestones were already extremely strong at the start of the season and I think they are still extremely strong. Of course Goodyear has worked hard, and now they have caught up a lot, just as Ferrari has caught us. It only means that our team, and Bridgestone, have to work harder. There is definitely more to come.

Q. With your team mate David Coulthard in 4th place, and with cars from two rival teams immediately behind you on the grid, do you feel threatened?

MH: No. Not really. I know this track extremely well and I have probably done more testing here than anyone else. I don't feel any stress, I just think we are going to see a fantastically exciting race tomorrow. We will all race and fight fairly until the chequered flag.

Q. Your team has had some minor reliability problems of various kinds in the last three or four races. Is this still a worry for you?

MH: It is a worry for every team to have a problem with something like the fuel rig, which happened to one of us at Magny-Cours. That was really unfortunate for David. But when you're in a situation like mine at the moment it is impossible to start thinking about all the little things that might happen. The team has worked very hard since the last race to understand what happened and to solve the problems that we had with the fuel rig. I will be very surprised if they happen again.

Q. What do you feel about the starting grid being relocated much further to the first corner?

MH: I preferred the old position, I think it was quite nice. But when you're on pole position it doesn't mater whether you have to start from here or from there.

Q. Michael, could you have been first today?

MS: It's all 'if and whether,' but it doesn't matter that we are not [on pole]. I had a very good first sector in that last run and just locked the inside wheel in Abbey and ran wide, and in this moment I knew the time was gone because it was too wide. Even on my previous run I had run wide in that corner and still managed more or less a line to continue, so overall, yes, there were a couple of tenths [that I needed] to improve. Whether it was enough or not to go for the pole position is one question. More important than this is that in Magny-Cours we didn't take pole position, but then we were competitive in the race. That's what I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Q. How do you feel about having three different makes of car in the first three places?

MS: The start is going to be interesting, because whoever gets in front there will decide the outcome of the race.

Q. Everyone seems to believe that if the forecast comes true and it rains tomorrow, then you will have the best chance ...

MS: Why? It is true that we have been better at races where the conditions are mixed and you have to take a decision [on choosing tyres and settings]. It can go one way or the other and yes, we have been lucky. But if conditions are entirely wet tomorrow, then all of us are capable of driving well in the rain -- and I don't see any big change in that. When it comes down to the difference between the Bridgestones and the latest Goodyears in the wet, then that is something that we haven't been able to see yet in really wet racing circumstances.

(Two-seater McLaren completes first lap outside press room window)

MS: Who is that with Martin Brundle? [FIA President] Max Mosley! Maybe that will give him some ideas. Maybe it's better he doesn't [get any ideas], because then he will be slowing these things down even more!

Q. Jacques, you must be pleased to be third for the first time this year.

JV: Yes, I didn't remember my way here [to the press room] because that was the first time this year, so it's good to finally get back in the top three for something. The car was strong the whole weekend. It has been stronger in Magny-Cours, but here it's been stronger again. We had some new aerodynamic bits which settled the car down a lot, and this track having a lot of high speed turns, it really was a good thing. We had some improvements on the engine for qualifying and that helped also. So a lot of little things went together and worked well. The tyres seemed to work well with our car also.

Q. You said your car really only came good for the last run.

JV: Yes, I had a lot of oversteer on the first run, and it took until the last run to dial it out. On the last run I could really be aggressive on the car, and then find some time. I still wasn't on the limit. There was still some time to come, so we are pretty confident for tomorrow. This was the first time this season when we had a package that was strong enough to fight like that, so it's a great feeling.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Martin Brundle
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams