Pole position press conference 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:19.298 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:19.327 3. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 1:19.440 Q. Congratulations, Michael, on a copybook demonstration which has given you your first...
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on a copybook demonstration which has given you your first pole position of the season. You set your time early and then let the others come at you. You must be pleased ...
Michael Schumacher: Yes, finally we got the first pole of the year and we are pleased with that. I expected it a bit at this circuit since we started well on Friday and did a good job this morning. Eddie did some further development on the car and engine while I was on vacation, so my thanks go to him for that. We are looking good. It's a shame that Eddie couldn't get his last lap done. Neither could I, but it wouldn't have changed anything for me, although I am sure Eddie would have been able to go faster. It would have been nice to have had two red cars on the front row. We will see how we deal with that tomorrow.
Q. One of the factors in your performance today was the latest engine from Ferrari. How well did it perform and will you be running it again tomorrow?
MS: No, we won't be running it tomorrow. We could [have used it] actually, but we are playing safe and we won't be running it. But as you know, in this kind of development area it is really small details [which are involved]. If you look at the difference, I am sure that we could have done [these times] even with the old engine. But it is always good to have something extra in hand, and the guys are obviously pushing hard. The new engine will soon be the one that we race.
Q. Mika, despite all this morning's problems you are within three hundredths of a second from Michael's time. Are you pleased with that?
Mika Hakkinen: I am very pleased indeed. I was not able to perform this morning as well as I had wanted to and the car was not exactly handling correctly. Once again the engineers did a great job to get the car right for qualifying and we were improving the car all the way through the session. It was brilliant, really good fun. On my second last run there were yellow flags at turns 8 and 9: it was going quite well until then, but I had to slow down and take it easy. I probably lost a lot of time there. Then on my last run there was a lot of traffic and I was not able to do the 100 per cent lap.
Q. This has never been your best track and your best race result here is a 5th place. With the race setup you've found, do you think you will be able to stay with the Ferraris tomorrow?
MH: We worked very hard for the race setup on Friday and we feel very comfortable with it. Obviously the car is even better now than it has been during the entire weekend, so I am quite optimistic and happy. We got more experience today and we were able to get the car better for the race. I am just thrilled, I am very happy about it and with the team. Tomorrow's race is going to be very interesting: it will be very hard for the brakes. If you look back into the history of this race, it is very hard for the cars, the chassis and the drivers. Tomorrow will be a big challenge, and for me to be in the top six is already a big achievement, because in terms of results I have never been good here.
Q. Eddie, before the qualifying session you said you would be near the top if you got it right. Did you get it right?
Eddie Irvine: No. I got it close but I left the big effort for the last run, and my mate Jean Alesi had the yellow flags out at the first corner. I had to back off -- and the tenth or so that I lost might have put me on pole. It's a shame that I am not on the front row, because it would have been nice to have kept Mika behind. But it makes it more interesting this way.
Q. From the outside, the track conditions seemed to stay consistent. Was that what you found?
EI: Yes, I think it did. I just had to get myself and the car dialled in, to try and get everything neat and tidy. This is a very difficult circuit to drive because the kerbs throw the car and if you use just a little too much kerb, it totally destroys the lap -- which is what happened to me at the first corner on my first run. It's a very challenging circuit.
Q. Michael, it is likely to be as hot tomorrow as it has been today. What does that mean as far as you personally are concerned, and what affect will it have on the car's performance?
MS: Basically, brakes are an issue here. You have a lot of braking from high speed to low speed. Then you run the kerbs pretty heavily, so the car has to be mechanically very reliable. On the engine side there is a lot of high speed running, which means the engine is also used very heavily. So you have to be good, and reliable, in all these areas. But I believe we are.