Saturday 15 August 1998 Qualifying: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:16.973s 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:17.131s 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:17.366s Q. Congratulations, Mika, on the ninth pole...
Saturday 15 August 1998 Qualifying: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:16.973s 2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:17.131s 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:17.366s
Q. Congratulations, Mika, on the ninth pole position of your career. Tell us about your three runs this afternoon ...
MH: Today was not the same sort of qualifying session that we normally have. We had made quite a few modifications to the car, both before the session and during it, just to try to improve the times through various sections of the track. But we found that although we had improved the car through one section, it was worse through some of the others, so it was a difficult situation. Apart from that it was a very interesting session. I had hoped to have a bigger margin on second place, but David was going so fast today that it was really difficult to get it any bigger. It was interesting!
Q. There was a lot of gravel on the road in a couple of places. How do you tackle that?
MH: It's not very comfortable, because we are sitting so close to the ground. If one of those rocks hits you, it can be serious. The gravel obviously affects the grip from the tyres, and it can also damage the wings or bodywork. It's not very nice.
Q. David, what happened on your final run?
DC: I did start the last run, but there was so much traffic when I came into the second last corner, and I was just a little bit late getting out of the pits, that I didn't have enough time to play with. When I asked the team at the second last corner how much time I had, they said '10 seconds.' I didn't know how long it would take me to get from the second last corner to start/finish line, so I tried to leave a bit of a gap to the Minardi. But one of the Jordans was going slow in the middle of the last corner to get a good start to the lap, so the Minardi had to slow down. I ended up catching it and having to overtake it at the first corner. There is no way you can do a fast qualifying lap overtaking a car, so I backed off straight away.
Q. What can you do about Mika in the race?
DC: Watch the oil coming out of the back of his car, like [I did at] Hockenheim. We will just wait and see what happens. It all comes down to what happens at the start, and Mika and I are making fairly consistent starts, the same as each other. So, providing that Michael doesn't make a Magny-Cours type start, then we will probably run 1-2 into the first corner.
Q. Will it be a tactical race?
DC: Yes, tactics are always important. It's not until you get into the middle of the race that you get an understanding where you are relative to the opposition with fuel stops and traffic There is every reason to think that we will still be quick in race trim. Michael got fairly close to us in qualifying, but we should be in reasonable condition.
Q. Michael, why did you abort your first lap?
MS: It was Heinz-Harald [Frentzen] not watching the mirrors and slowing me down into turn four as he was on a slowing down lap back to the pits. I couldn't get past him, so I had to slow down and come to the pits, too.
Q. After that, on two runs we saw you locking up brakes. Is that a major problem?
MS: It's a problem which appears in qualifying in particular when you want to push harder; you don't care about the tyre, because you have enough for the race anyway, and you just go for it. Here you don't really flatspot the tyre, you can just keep it locked for a while and not have to worry about it being too badly damaged.
Q. Could you have been on the front row here?
MS: I was trying. I knew it was difficult, but we're pretty close and we have prepared for the race pretty well. That's more important.
Q. Are you strong enough to tail the McLarens?
MS: I would think so, yes, there is no reason why not. As we saw in qualifying, I have a little better performance [than in Germany], but then in the race it will be a different story in my view. I hope we will prove that tomorrow.
Q. There's a possibility of a rain shower in the race. Do you welcome that?
MS: We are strong enough in the dry. We are pretty strong in the real wet. There are circumstances when it's probably half/half we may be a bit weaker, but in general we have a pretty good situation.
Q. Michael, we understand that you were involved in a competitive run between the hotel and the circuit yesterday. Did you realize that you were recognized as you came through the traffic at rather high speed? Is this compatible with your position as the FIA's representative on road safety?
MS: I don't know what you are talking about, to be honest. For sure, when you go to the circuit you try to sneak through the traffic. I don't think I did anything unreasonable. Were you there? Did you see it? You see, there is too much gossip around. I don't know who spread this story. It's true that Jacques and I left the hotel at the same time and we arrived at the circuit at the same time. But I don't think that we drive exceptionally different from the way the Hungarian people do here anyway ...