Italian GP Saturday qualifying

Grand Prix of Italy Monza Saturday 12 September 1998 Qualifying: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) 1:25.289 2. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome) 1:25.561 3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) ...

Grand Prix of Italy Monza Saturday 12 September 1998

Qualifying: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)              1:25.289
            2. Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Mecachrome)  1:25.561
            3. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)          1:25.679

Q. Even though nobody went out until there was less than half an hour to go, the final 20 minutes of today's session on a drying track were wonderfully exciting. Michael, I understand you went out first on intermediate tyres ...

MS: Yes, that's true. It was a decision that we made for safety: I wanted to check out the conditions, and they weren't too bad. By the time I went out on slicks the track was dry everywhere except at the Lesmo. We got everything right: the first lap worked, and I tried hard on my third lap but then I ran wide at the final corner. But as we saw, it was enough. This is a dream result. We had been expecting to go better than we did in testing, but this is a great position from which to be starting such an important race.

Q. We noticed on your final run that you actually did one slow lap. Was that because you wanted to wait a little longer before going for pole?

MS: No, I had an 'off' when I went straight on at the Roggia chicane. I knew I would have to abort that lap because it would not have counted even if it had been faster. On the other side I think it was time we got our first pole position of the season. We have waited long enough for it and obviously I am proud and happy to have done it here at Monza.

Q. You must be thrilled about this achievement. After all, it was you yourself who said that in dry conditions it was virtually certain that McLaren would be starting from the front ...

MS: Yes, that's true. But you should never forget Ferrari or discount us. We will always be there when we have to be there, and we will be there tomorrow. Don't worry!

Q. Jacques, congratulations on your first front row grid position of the year. Only a few months ago, even a second place in qualifying seemed like a wild improbability. You and Williams have obviously made massive progress ...

JV: Yes, it went well today. We changed the car from yesterday and hadn't done a lap in the dry with it. We kept the setup for qualifying, and it wasn't perfect because I had a lot of understeer and I couldn't brake hard either. So the lap itself wasn't very good -- but I was very happy to get on the front row because my laps up to that point had not been very good. I didn't want to make a mistake on that final lap.

Q. Do you have a setup for the dry which could be good for you tomorrow if the forecasts prove correct and the rain stays away?

JV: Yes, because even though the car didn't feel fast in the driving, it proved to be quick on the clocks. That's what counts. When you have a car that's easy to drive fast, it makes things much more comfortable for the race.

Q. Mika, most of us had been expecting to find you on pole position here this afternoon. What went wrong?

MH: I suppose the biggest problem here has been the weather, which has been the same for everyone. These conditions made things very difficult for me, trying to get the best out of myself and out of the car. Today I think Michael was the best at doing that, so 'Well Done' to him. Jacques also did some good work. So what went wrong today? I think we were victims of circumstances. Although it is always easy to list the 'ifs' and 'buts,' I have to say that things started well on my last timed lap, because I was already up by a couple of tenths in the first sector, before I ran into traffic and had to slow down. But I am still in a good position.

Q. With your seven points advantage in the championship do you expect to be fighting to get ahead of Michael in tomorrow's race? Or will you be satisfied with a place behind him?

MH: Obviously I would not prefer the second of those options. We have a car which is very good in race configuration and we have proved how good it can be all weekend, even though the weather conditions have been poor. I really believe that tomorrow's race will be exciting from start to finish.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams