Saturday 6 June 1998 -- Qualifying press conference Qualifying: 1. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.213 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.282 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:18.497 Q. Congratulations,...
Saturday 6 June 1998 -- Qualifying press conference Qualifying: 1. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.213 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.282 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:18.497
Q. Congratulations, David, on taking your third pole position of the season. How confident were you this morning that you would be able to pip Mika to the best time this afternoon? DC: I was of the mind that it could go either way. Our two cars are the same. And although I wouldn't say we haven't found the perfect setup for this circuit yet, we have got some of the problems solved. Pole position was down to whoever got the tidier lap, and today it was me.
Q. Has the weather affected your race preparation? DC: It's been a little colder than would be ideal for the Bridgestone tyre. I think the situation here is similar to what we saw in Argentina: Michael is close, and so are several of the other Goodyear runners. We hope it's going to be a bit warmer in the race.
Q. How crucial is pole position here? DC: As you have seen from the first few GPs this year, pole position can give you a big advantage in helping you to win. If you are leading the first lap, provided you don't have any problems it can be extremely difficult for a rival to find his way past you. That's why I wouldn't be able even to explain to you how happy I was when I found out that I did have the pole here. I wish there were championship points for pole position, as well as for the results of the race. It was pretty good to know that I had been able to pip Mika, because it could have gone either way, and the advantage lay with him because he had the last run.
Q. Is there a feeling of unfinished business from last year? DC: You can go through every race you have ever contested and talk about what could have been, but there's no point. Last year at this circuit I had a good car, and that doesn't automatically mean that I am going to be running at the front again this year. But irrespective of what happened last year, I would obviously like to have 10 points this year, for this year's championship.
Q. Mika, it looked to us as though you aborted your first two laps, and the final lap, too. So how many quick laps did you manage to fit in today? MH: (laughs) Mmmm. Sometimes when you have seen your data there is no point in continuing your lap, if the lap is slower. I had some traffic during my runs and I did not have exactly as comfortable a run, or as quick a lap, as I would have wanted to have. So it was better to slow down. I had maybe three quick runs.
Q. You were in the pits for a long time. How much did you change the car during the session? MH: We made some modifications. You always do that in qualifying: when you do three or four runs, you tend to make some changes to the car between them. It depends on where you are, and my times today were obviously not as quick as I would have liked, or as the engineers wanted them to have been. So we made the changes, and we made the car quicker. Actually, for the last run we did some modifications which probably made the car not as good. It made it easier to drive the car, but not quicker.
Q. After that, there was some waiting for the fastest time to emerge. Were you surprised that the challenge came from David rather than from Michael? MH: (pause) Well, Michael was going extremely quickly today, but by the end of the day he was not able to match exactly the times that we were doing and he was still behind us. It was certainly going quite well for us, but I guess that David was the quickest guy today. He did some really good work, it was fantastic.
Q. What are your feelings about the race? How is your confidence? MH: We all know from the past that Canada has always been a very mixed race. All sorts of things have happened here: racing incidents, mechanical failures, things like that. That is the Canadian race, and I expect similar things to happen again tomorrow. A lot of things are going to happen and there is no secret about how to drive this track. Even if there was, I wouldn't tell you ... But it is certainly going to be a very interesting race, with close times. Consistency is probably going to be among the most important things.
Q. Michael, after Monaco you must be pleased to be back among the top three qualifiers ... MS: Yes, definitely, and it's good not just to be in the top three again but also to be so close to these two guys with me. The gap is two tenths, which is reasonable, and makes it possible to look forward to the race for a good result.
Q. How has the cool weather affected your tyre testing programme in comparison with McLaren? MS: I think we all have similar problems, to be honest, because in very cold weather we are all struggling to get some temperature into the tyres. It is not like Argentina, in my view, but let's see what happens tomorrow. Goodyear has supplied us with a very good race tyre for this weekend and has definitely made a good step forward [with the latest tyres]. You can see this not just from our performance but from other teams like Jordan, which are much closer to the Bridgestone teams than they were at Monaco.
Q. You have won here twice before, so presumably you have some cunning tactics in reserve to help you do well again tomorrow ... MS: Yes, definitely!
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