British Grand Prix Silverstone Sunday 12 July 1998 Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 47:12.450s (190.963 km/h); 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 12.5 seconds behind; 3. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari),...
British Grand Prix
Sunday 12 July 1998
Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 47:12.450s (190.963 km/h); 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 12.5 seconds behind; 3. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 19.2 seconds behind
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on another remarkable victory. At the beginning of the race, though, you must have wondered whether you could win here ...
MS: Early in the race I wasn't fast enough and I couldn't hold the pace of the two guys in front of me. Conditions were varying and at certain moments I was faster, but most of the time those guys were faster. There was always a ten second gap, although just before the Safety Car came out it had grown much bigger. Obviously, I slowed down: it was dangerous and there was no point in pushing. So I was quite happy that the Safety Car came out ... although I suppose Mika is much less happy about it.
The point then was that I was behind the Safety Car for ... I don't know for how many laps. Then everybody knows what happened, but I still don't know the reason for my penalty or why I had to come in. I thought maybe it was a situation with Giancarlo [Fisichella], but I don't think I passed him on the line. I don't know what else could have been wrong.
Q. You finished the race in the pit lane. Was it your decision to do that, or did you get a message by radio from your team?
MS: No, I didn't have radio communication because from about halfway through the race the radio was gone. At certain moments I was talking to Eddie, actually, and asking him to transfer my messages to the team. I don't know whether he could understand or not! The point then was that I got a sign from the pit wall with an arrow to come in. I thought maybe we had a fuel problem and would have to put some more fuel in.
Q. After your first pit stop you put on intermediates. Was that a disadvantage?
MS: I am not sure about this, but I think that most people were out in intermediates again. That was the right thing. I wouldn't say our intermediates were sufficiently competitive today, but it was the only chance we had. In the end I went to rain tyres.
Q. After the Safety Car was withdrawn, did you feel confident of being able to find a way past Mika?
MS: I was pretty much aware of the fact that with this level of water the Goodyears were slightly better [than the Bridgestones]. When the water was going away I thought we had a slight disadvantage, and that's the way it went. It proved that I was able to stay with him and put on some pressure. Only Mika can explain why he ran wide, but obviously it was lucky for me that I got him -- and I won the race because of that.
Q. Mika, you must be disappointed to be 2nd today after holding the lead for all but the final nine laps ...
MH: Yes, of course it is extremely disappointing. Until the really heavy rain came down, everything was looking extremely good. The rain made it incredibly difficult to drive, and it was only one or two laps later that I went off [at Bridge] and broke my front wing. I lost all the downforce at the front, and every time I went into a high speed corner the car wanted to go straight on. The car was six or seven seconds slower than it should have been, all the time, so I lost the whole situation there.
Q. With Michael tucked under your car's rear wing at the restart, was there any hope then of being able to hold him off?
MH: No. I didn't have any front end in the car, it just didn't want to turn at all. You could probably see on television what happened when I tried to go into Becketts: I turned in normally but the car went straight. I had no idea exactly how much damage there was to my car's front wing. And although the team informed me that everything looked OK, I guess it must have been difficult for them to see exactly what was going on from the TV. Everything felt normal, at least until I started pushing, and although Copse felt fine, when I went into Becketts the car went absolutely straight. It didn't even turn and just ran over the gravel. There is no way I could have given Michael any opposition.
Q. Eddie, welcome to the podium again. This time, though, it must have been a little unexpected ...
EI: After the start, yes. We have an anti-stall system on the transmission which came in [for no reason]. I shifted up to get a gear and eventually it started off in 3rd gear, but by then I was back in 10th or 11th place. I was able to make a lot of progress, at least until I got up to Damon. He started weaving all over the place, and [after Canada] of course I could only think, 'it's the same again.' But he got his punishment when he made a mistake and went off the road at the next corner. I got through and I was able to overtake a car on almost every lap. It was very exciting stuff.
Q. At the end you looked ready to make a move on Mika for second place. Did you back off?
EI: It was hard work to catch up on him, to be honest. Because of his problem it was easy to catch him in the high speed stuff, but in the low speed corners he seemed to have a lot more grip than me. Then I got right under his wing coming on to the Hangar Straight -- and aquaplaned straight across the circuit. After that I seemed to have no grip, I was struggling just to stay on the track. Maybe I had lost temperature in the tyres because from that point onwards I was really struggling. Up to that point I was really confident I could have got him. But after that [moment] there was no way I was going to get him. I am disappointed that I wasn't able to put him under more pressure.