Pole position press conference 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.156 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 1:18.263 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.384 Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your eighth pole position of the season. With ...
Pole position press conference 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.156 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 1:18.263 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:18.384
Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your eighth pole position of the season. With Hockenheim in mind and the constantly changing weather, are you satisfied with your choice of tyre today?
Mika Hakkinen: From the experience of yesterday I am confident in our tyres. Bridgestone supplies our team with the best possible tyres. The experience of the last Grand Prix left some negative memories, but at this circuit we are not loading the tyres as heavily as you do at Hockenheim and you don't give them such a hard time here as you do there.
Q. Eddie, are you surprised to be sitting here in 2nd place after qualifying?
Eddie Irvine: There are no long straights here, so I thought that if there was anywhere we could qualify on pole, it would be here. In fact the sector where we are losing out is T1, the part with the two straights. But it is good to be on the front row, although third place [on the grid] can sometimes be better than second here.
Q. Will it be a big disadvantage, then, to be starting from the dirtier side of the track?
EI: Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't: I have made great starts from both sides of the grid here. We'll see tomorrow. The side [you get] helps you maybe 20 percent: your [starting] technique affects about 80 percent, so ... let's see.
Q. One of the most striking things about qualifying today is to see how poorly Mika Salo has done back there in 18th place. Do you know why he has done relatively badly today?
EI: I don't know what Mika's problem is, although he has been struggling all weekend. On this circuit you really need to believe in the car, you really need to be familiar with it. You need to go into the corners too fast and then catch it in the middle of the corner. But Mika still hasn't done any running at 'proper' circuits: if you look at Hockenheim and Fiorano, they're not really circuits where you can 'learn' the car. It's been disappointing for him, but in the race tomorrow I expect to see him get into the groove and we will see a good drive from him.
Q. David, you seemed to suffer more than most from traffic and debris on the track. Are you disappointed to be in 3rd place, or are you relieved?
DC: You will always be a bit disappointed not to be quickest, because you can always control the race [from pole position] if you make a good start. Nonetheless, the times are incredibly close. I think everyone can tell the story of being able to go a little bit quicker if he gets a clear track. In fact I eventually held up someone by mistake as well. It works both ways.
Q. Mika, you obviously need the win for the world championship, but you also need it to satisfy the tens of thousands of Finns we see here this weekend. Why do so many of your countrymen come here to Hungary to make it virtually a home race for you?
MH: I believe there have been at least 23 extra flights from Finland to Hungary for this weekend's race ...
EI: Is that the whole population?
MH: ... and it's really good fun to see so many Finns. There have always been a lot of Finns here in the past, and now more and more are coming, because of me and McLaren and David's performance. Now that the other Mika is driving for Ferrari, the whole of Finland is watching, and lots of them wanted to come here to see it. They like to come to Hungary because our characters are so similar.
Q. Did you get a clear track every time out today?
MH: I only had one really clear run -- and that was the first one. Yes, there was traffic on the second, the third ... and the last run. Good excuse, eh? But that's the reality here. On this circuit the team tries to help as much as possible, to give the drivers the chance of a clear run. But it is always a little gamble, because you never know who's going to be going over the grass at the same time you're on the track. In my case, on my last run, Johnny [Herbert] had a technical problem with his car and a lot of bits and pieces were flying off it, so I had to back off. Otherwise that would have been a really good lap.