Italian GP Saturday press conference

Pole position press conference 1. Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.432 2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen/Honda 1:22.926 3. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.177 Q. Mika, well done. This is your 11th pole ...

Pole position press conference

1. Mika Hakkinen         McLaren-Mercedes    1:22.432
2. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen/Honda  1:22.926
3. David Coulthard       McLaren-Mercedes    1:23.177

Q. Mika, well done. This is your 11th pole position of the season, half a second faster than the nearest opposition. You went out three times this afternoon and each time you went faster than before. Did you get the best possible lap today?

Mika Hakkinen: Yeah! Obviously the third run was the fastest -- and it really worked out fantastically. The second run was also really good, but somebody moved the chicane in the second sector. This was a really good qualifying session.

Q. Your pole position lap was actually the fastest ever recorded with this track in its present configuration, faster even than when the F1 cars were running on slicks. Why are this year's cars going so quickly?

MH: I think it is the development in aerodynamics and in engine power ... fast drivers. Those are the main reasons.

Q. Heinz-Harald, although qualifying 2nd fastest equals your best previous performance of the year, at Hockenheim, you had a fraught session. I had the impression that you had planned to do four runs of three laps ...

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Yes, that's right. The plan today was do two timed laps [per run], and the car was fuelled for that. But on my first run I lost it under braking on the second timed lap and came back to the pits. Again, on that second run we again tried to do two timed laps -- and I actually did my fastest lap of the afternoon on that one. But then there were some yellow flags around and I had to abort the second timed lap. On the last run I again tried to do two timed laps, but it was virtually impossible. The traffic was bad and there were yellow flags everywhere.

Q. What information do you receive from the team when you are qualifying? Did you know, for example, what time Mika had done as soon as he did it?

HHF: This time it wasn't difficult [to know] because Mika went out on to the track when I was still waiting in the pits [to start my last run]. But I still had to focus on Mika and David all the time, because I got a feeling about it this morning and I knew we had a chance of qualifying on the front row.

Q. David, you had various troubles, including having to give up one run because of traffic. Do you feel you have left a possible pole position in the bag somewhere today?

David Coulthard: Well, Mika's [pole position] lap was a pretty special one and even with a clear run I think it would have been quite difficult [for me] to have been as quick as that, certainly the way I felt with the car. On this track you always know that backmarkers and yellow flags are going to be an issue, but that's the same for everyone. Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad -- and today wasn't so good. But we should still be OK for the race.

Q. Starting from 3rd place tomorrow, you will need to get past Heinz-Harald as quickly as possible. Can that be achieved here? Or is it a case of having to wait for the pit stops?

DC: It depends what happens. Maybe I will make a better start, or perhaps Heinz will make a mistake somewhere. But as you say, it could happen at the pit stops. We must wait and see.

Q. Mika, your main rival for the world championship as far as points are concerned is Eddie Irvine, who will be starting well back from 8th place on the grid. With Ferrari apparently on the slide, do you now consider David as your main rival in the championship?

MH: (sniffs) I think this question was already asked at the last Grand Prix. As I said then, at the end of the day Eddie is well behind [me on the grid], but you can never tell what's going to happen. I don't know how he's going to score in this Grand Prix. I have started many races from well back but still managed to finish on the podium. So ... it's very hard to say. At the moment Eddie is not so far behind me in the championship, so I just have to keep my eyes open. At the same time, although David is more points behind, he is closer to me on the grid. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Jordan