German GP winners' press conference

1. Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1:21:58.594 2. Mike Salo Ferrari +1.007 3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen-Honda +5.195 Q. Congratulations, Eddie, on taking back the lead in the world championship with your...

1. Eddie Irvine Ferrari 1:21:58.594 2. Mike Salo Ferrari +1.007 3. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen-Honda +5.195

Q. Congratulations, Eddie, on taking back the lead in the world championship with your second consecutive victory. It didn't start at all well for you, though: what happened to you when the lights went out?

Eddie Irvine: I got a good start and then David Coulthard sort of boxed me in. Then I took the wrong side to go round Heinz going down the straight, so Rubens got me. Once that happened I knew I would have to let the race come to me, because I was having oil temperature problems and I had to back off a little. And in fact the race came to us.

Q. So many times before, you've had to wait for the call to move over for Michael Schumacher. What was it like to make the call for Mike to do the same for you?

EI: I know what it feels like, but never made the call, thank goodness. What a star Mika was today! This was his race and he will be getting the trophy: I would feel bad if it was sitting on my mantelpiece instead of his. He's a boy wonder and he did an absolutely fantastic job today. Incredible!

Q. Once again you had a poor qualifying but then showed superb pace in the race. Is this going to continue to be a problem for Ferrari?

EI: Obviously it isn't great to be qualifying on the second and third rows, but at the moment McLaren seems to have the legs on us. The next race, in Hungary, is on a very different type of circuit, so I'm hoping we'll be quicker there. Mika [Salo] is also up to full pace now, so we have a very strong team now and we can go for constructors' points as well. We thought our chances in that were did, but Mika's doing a blinding job and both titles could be on the cards.

Q. Mika, what a fairytale month for you! First you get married, then you get the call from Maranello and now you've taken your first ever podium finish. How do you feel?

Mika Salo: It's certainly been very busy. When it all started I had a couple of days of testing, and now I shall be very happy to get back to Fiorano next week for some more. Last weekend in Austria was a big mess for me, but this weekend has been much better. I haven't made any mistakes and the car felt really good all weekend.

Q. Even though you were on the dirty side of the track, you made a great start. Did that need a lot of practice?

MS: I didn't make a good start in Austria last week, so I have been practising them a lot. It just happened to grip -- and the car took off. It was really good. I am satisfied about that.

Q. When you finally got that call from the pits [to move aside for Eddie], did you have any second thoughts [about obeying it]?

MS: Nnn-ooo. Not at that time, but later in the race, when Eddie was starting to go a bit too slow, I was on the radio telling them I wanted him to go quicker because Heinz-Harald was catching us.

Q. Heinz-Harald, is it frustrating to have raced for 300 kilometres, chasing all the time, and to finish just four seconds behind Mika Salo?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Well, yes. At the start of the race I didn't make the best getaway, but nor was it the worst. I had to let Mika's Ferrari through, but I was also stuck on the outside, and Rubens got me two or three laps later. He was very fast at that stage, but we don't know yet how much fuel he was running. Anyway, I had to let him through as well. Then I tried to find my pace. I could just keep up with the Ferrari guys, but at that moment I couldn't attack them. Unfortunately also I flat-spotted a tyre before the fifth lap, which gave me a lot of vibration on the first set of tyres. In the end, Eddie caught me up, but then we made an earlier pit stop [than planned], just to change tyres.

Q. Now you have moved into 3rd place in the world championship and you are finishing in consistently strong positions. Do you think you now have a chance of contesting the title?

HHF: I don't think so. We are in good shape at the moment, with a strong and very reliable package, and we are able to finish the races consistently, as you say. But on race tracks like Hungary where you need a lot of downforce, our car is not as good as it has been, for example, here at Hockenheim. We are on the way to improving it, and we look forward to that. But we will have to fight hard for that.

Q. Eddie, with the high downforce Hungaroring coming up, do you think the situation may now play into the hands of Ferrari?

EI: Yes, I think it should be more to our liking. The Hungaroring circuit is also more of a circuit that I enjoy, it's like a little kart track with lots of left-right-left corners and none of the big heavy-braking stops. That's great, much better than here where you just have to accelerate and stop all the time. There, you are fighting the car all the way round the lap, so I am looking forward to a real tussle with my Ferrari there.

Q. With your eight point lead in the world championship, surely now you must have begun to think you have a good chance of taking the title ...

EI: Well, no. Here today, knowing how quick the McLarens were, I thought I would concentrate on finishing and getting some points, then moving on to fight [for the lead] on another day. Then the race came to us! As long as that keeps happening, we are looking good!

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Salo
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Jordan