Italian GP Winner's Press Conference

Grand Prix of Italy Monza Sunday 13 September 1998 Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 17:09.672s (190.963 km/h); 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 38 seconds behind; 3. Ralf Schumacher ...

Grand Prix of Italy Monza Sunday 13 September 1998

Post race winners' press conference: 1. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1hr 17:09.672s (190.963 km/h); 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 38 seconds behind; 3. Ralf Schumacher (Jordan-Mugen/Honda), 41 seconds behind _________________________________________________________________ Q. Congratulations, Michael, on a great victory for Ferrari which puts you equal on points in the world championship with Mika Hakkinen. I think you will agree, though, that it didn't look too promising for you at the start ... MS: You're right. My start was so terrible that it looked as though I was going for a walk, not a race. Instead of getting a good take off [from the line], the wheels just slipped. At that point everything that could have gone wrong was going wrong and I lost a lot of positions. Fortunately I was able to get back ahead of Jacques immediately, then Eddie didn't make it difficult for me to go past him, which allowed me to start catching the McLarens. Q. Almost as soon as you had got on to Mika's tail, David Coulthard pulled off in a cloud of somebody else's smoke. At that moment you went past Mika. Can you remember the sequence of events? MS: Quite a lot of things had happened by then. Hakkinen had let Coulthard past him, and Coulthard was disappearing into the distance, which left Mika and myself to challenge each other for quite a number of laps. Then there was a tremendous blow-up [from Nakano] which made it impossible to see into the corner or spot the cars in front. We both had to slow down big-time, and Mika actually ran on to the grass although I was still behind him. Mika then lost it into the chicane -- he ran wide and was struggling -- so I was able to out-accelerate him on the way out of the chicane down to the first of the Lesmos. He obviously defended by moving over and trying to close the door. But I still went through -- and that is what won the race for me. Q. At the end of the race, after his tyre change, Mika started to catch up with you again. Were you perhaps worried that your tactics were wrong? MS: No, not at all. I didn't have to make another pit stop and everything was running easily. I wasn't worried because it is one thing to catch up by a small difference in lap times -- and with Mika it was only two or three tenths per lap -- but to overtake someone you have to be much faster than that. Also, our straight line speed wasn't much different [from the McLarens'] today, so there was nothing to concern me. It was nicer, though, to see him go off and leave me with a big lead. Q. Eddie, a great result for you, too. How do you feel to be part of a Ferrari 1-2 at Monza? EI: It's been a while since I have been on the podium. I have to say that for a while out there it was getting boring, but it's amazing how quickly it stops being boring when you have a chance to be up here. Q. You had a long battle with Jacques Villeneuve, until he went off the road. How closely matched were the Ferrari and the Williams? EI: I had been ahead of him for most of the race, but then I made a mistake at one of the Lesmos and ran a bit wide, which allowed him to close up on me [and pass]. Then we got caught in traffic and I went in to the pits for my stop. I came out ahead of him and he was pushing hard to catch me. But I don't think he had quite enough speed and eventually he made his mistake, which left me with a big gap to Ralf. I just backed off then, but of course Mika started to have his problems so I started pushing again. After I had done a few quick laps and got ahead of Mika I backed off again because I really hadn't been happy with the car since the start of the race. It had been set up very stiff which made it very difficult to drive. Q. You had a couple of incidents. You went straight on at the first chicane and you went off at the Lesmo. Was that all because of the stiffer car? EI: I have done more testing at this circuit than anywhere by a mile. I've been going back and forwards, stiffer, softer, stiffer, softer, and I just don't seem to be able to get the car right. I went stiff for the race which was probably the wrong thing, and I was soft for qualifying which is probably the wrong thing as well! I just completely screwed the whole weekend up, which is good that you get 6 points when you have totally screwed up! Q. Ralf, congratulations on your 3rd place. You started sixth on the grid, while your team mate Damon Hill was 14th. But Damon very rapidly caught and passed you, which suggests that he had a different strategy from yours. What were the tactics inside Jordan? RS: Well, it turned out in the end that Damon got a point, so the strategy was obviously right, for us and for him. But the quicker strategy was to have gone for one stop, which I did. Damon really had no other choice [than to stop twice], if he wanted to make up places. I am happy for the team that we were both in the points. Q. With Williams on 33 points in the constructors' championship, Benetton on 32 and Jordan now on 31, what can we expect from the last two races? RS: The possibility is there now, and I certainly hope that we can take 3rd place. Both Damon and I are fighting for it. I just hope that before I leave the team I can help Jordan to get third place in the constructors' title. Q. Michael, how are you and the 150,000 fans going to celebrate tonight? MS: We will stay a couple of hours longer, maybe overnight, Eddie and myself, and have a good celebration tonight. EI: I don't think [Michael's wife] Corinna will let him [celebrate]. But I'm going to the party anyway.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Damon Hill
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan