Post-race winners' press conference: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:20:47.984s (227.997 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +0.43 seconds 3. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome), +2.15 seconds Q.
Post-race winners' press conference: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:20:47.984s (227.997 km/h) 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), +0.43 seconds 3. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome), +2.15 seconds
Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your sixth victory of the season. Today, though, it looked as though your team mate had you under pressure all through the race ...
MH: That's correct. Towards the end I was quite worried about the situation. At the same time Jacques was pushing quite hard in third place and catching us. At one point there was also some oil on the track, and at the same time that was all happening I started to lose some speed in the car. David has mentioned to me that it was difficult for him to see because there was something coming out of the back of my car. I was obviously concerned about all that -- and that's where the pressure was coming from.
Q. You were both very close when you came up to make your pit stops at half distance. Did you think David might be able to overtake you then? MH: Yes, I did. That's all I can say!
Q. David, you were pushing Mika so closely that for most of the race there was barely one second between you. Was this always going to be a team race, or did you believe you would have a chance of passing him? DC: At the pit stop, as you mentioned, I thought there might be a chance for me to get past. As Mika went into the pits I noticed from the screen on my dashboard that we were eight tenths slower on that lap than I had been up to that point. I knew if I went back to my regular lap time [before my own stop], then that could make the crucial difference. But I got two slower cars in front of me on the 'in' lap before my pit stop. That made me so frustrated that I tried to make up the lost time under braking into my refuelling area and I overshot. In the end, that cancelled everything out when I returned to the track and came up behind Mika again. It is always difficult when you are racing against someone who has effectively the same car: fuel-wise you have the same weight, you're using the same tyres and you have very similar setups. When you're both experiencing the same drop-off in performance due to the tyres and brakes it can be very difficult to establish any sort of advantage in other areas
Q. You got the fastest lap today, and for much of the race you were . looking a little quicker than Mika. We were expecting you to attack . him .. DC: Yes, but it wasn't easy out there. It may look like a walk . in the park to anyone who is watching, but believe me, when you are . doing 350 km/h into the braking area while following another car and . losing downforce, it's very difficult. It is one thing to pass a car . with inferior performance, but to get past a car with exactly the same. performance as yours is entirely different. There is far too much . at stake to go for glory by locking up the brakes on the inside and . getting it all wrong. I don't need that for my championship and Mika . doesn't need it for his. In the end we had a good fight, but there . wasn't much chance of us overtaking .
Q. Jacques, this is your first podium since you won the 1997 title at . Jerez last year. You must be feeling good to have been running at the . front again .. JV: It feels great! Today we could keep up with the two. McLarens, mostly when we noticed that Mika was having problems and I . was trying to push hard in the hope that Mika's problem would become . accentuated. But then seven laps from the end something broke on my . car and I had to slow down myself. That was really a shame .
Q. We saw your pit crew looking worried, too. Do you know what was wrong with your car? JV: We were getting a lot of wheelspin on the inside wheel. Maybe the differential had failed, because the revs were going up and nothing was happening on the track. I was losing quite a bit of time because of that.
Q. Is there a chance that you will be able to race the two McLaren guys on other circuits as closely as you did today? JV: Yes. The remaining tracks should suit us, and we should be especially competitive at Monza, which is another low downforce circuit. Our car seems to be very comfortable to drive on low wing settings, which helps us to keep up with the McLarens on circuits with long straights. I am also expecting Spa and Suzuka to suit us. Things are certainly looking good!
Q. Mika, what are your feelings about Hungary, which is the next circuit on the F1 schedule? MH: Last year we performed very well there in qualifying, and then again in the race -- until we got a problem. This year we have a very good car, a great package and very good tyres. Basically, the Hungaroring is the complete opposite of Hockenheim: it needs a lot of downforce and a good balance from the car. We have got it and I am looking forward to going there!