Grand Prix of France Magny-Cours Sunday 28 June 1998 Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 34:45.026s (190.963 km/h); 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 19.6 seconds behind; 3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes),...
Grand Prix of France Magny-Cours
Sunday 28 June 1998
Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 34:45.026s (190.963 km/h); 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 19.6 seconds behind; 3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 19.7 seconds behind.
Q. Congratulations, Michael, on your 30th career victory in F1. Seeing the welcome you had from your team, we don't need to be told what it means for Ferrari to have taken a 1-2 result today!
MS: It's great to have the thirtieth win, and obviously it's very important for the championship. I don't remember Ferrari's last 1-2 result, and as Eddie says it was about time we did it again. We have worked very hard over the last couple of months and I want to pay my compliments to the two groups who have contributed so much to this success. One of them is the Goodyear company, who worked so hard to develop the new tyre that we only tested for the first time last week. It wasn't easy to get it into production for this race and they all worked flat out to do it. The other reason for our success is that we made some good aerodynamic steps, and I want to thank the factory for that.
Q. You didn't get away too well at the first start, so you must have been pleased when the race was stopped to allow a restart. What were your feelings before the second start?
MS: In fact I wasn't relieved about the race being restarted, because I thought I had done a good start first time when I kept my position away from the line. Usually starting against the McLarens is difficult, and although we have definitely improved our starting procedure, we are not yet where we want to be. So when I saw there was going to be a re-start, I was worried that the same thing might happen to me that we saw in Canada, and I could lose a position again. But luckily both Eddie and I made fantastic starts: we jumped both McLarens, and that was one of the factors that won the race for us.
Q. Towards the end of the race there was oil on one of the corners. Did that cause you any problems?
MS: Yes, although I had a big enough gap and I knew I could take it fairly easy. I looked in the mirror because I knew that David Coulthard was [one lap] behind me and catching up. I didn't want to take any risks, so I braked very early -- and only just made it. David seemed to be going too fast and he want over the kerbs, and suddenly I didn't see him anymore. Oil is always a hazard, because even if the marshals are flagging it, you never know whether it will be on the racing line or not. It almost caught me out, and it obviously caught several other drivers, too.
Q. Eddie, you have had to fight hard today for your 2nd place. Were you under a lot of pressure out there?
EI: Yes, the pressure was there right from the start. My first start wasn't great but I learned a lesson from that and made a great getaway second time. After that I had Mika breathing down my neck virtually all the way to the finish. I was nearly caught out at the end of the race, though. First I got a radio message to warn me to be careful because there was oil, then they called again to say there was a LOT of oil ... and next thing I knew I had found it and I was sliding off the road over the kerbs. Luckily for me, Mika didn't get past me then. It was pretty easy to control him because I knew he wouldn't be taking any chances and I am sure he knew I wasn't going to leave him much room if he wanted to try anything.
Q. You came under a lot of pressure from the McLarens in the opening stages ...
EI: Yes, I made a good start and didn't want to push too hard as I only had Michael in front of me and he was going great guns. So I really just tried to drive steady and the McLarens couldn't get past me, so I was happy. I was just being careful and not really pushing. Then I got held up by a backmarker through the fast right hander and one of the McLarens, I don't know which one it was, got past me. Then they both pitted straight away. Fortunately, because of the long fast corner here it was quite easy to control someone behind you.
Q. Then Mika attacked you in the last corner.
EI: I knew he was going to have a go there because all weekend I have had a downchange problem. The rear wheels keep locking up on the downchange. We tried a couple of different strategies in the warm-up laps before the race, and it felt a bit better. But then in the race it got really bad and I couldn't really attack the corners because every time I kicked down a gear it would lock the rear tyres. So I was a bit slow on the entry there, and Mika was always closing on me and eventually had a go. I just made sure I braked at the last minute and forced him to make a mistake, which he happily did for me, thanks! I was able to continue on my way.
Q. Mika, you had to fight hard for your third place. What happened at the first start?
MH: We don't need to say much about the first one, because it was red flagged, but it was really fantastic. The second start wasn't so good: I was not able to do as well as I did the first time, and I lost a couple of positions. I have had a lot of experience racing here and I know that when you are racing against someone who can lap within a second of your time, then there is virtually no chance of being able to overtake. I took a risk that one time by trying to overtake Eddie, and everything went fine until I lost the back end. It was interesting!
Q. Your championship lead has not been cut by Michael to just six points. What are your feelings about being able to defend it?
MH: I intend to keep on working flat out with the team on improving the car. Now is not the time to pay attention to what other people are doing, we must concentrate on our own jobs. But everyone at McLaren-Mercedes and Bridgestone has been doing some great work: let's continue like that.