Italian GP winners' press conference

1. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen/Honda 1:17:02.923 2. Ralf Schumacher Williams-Supertec +3.272 3. Mika Salo Ferrari +11.932 Q. Congratulations, Heinz-Harald, on your second win of the year.

1. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan-Mugen/Honda 1:17:02.923 2. Ralf Schumacher Williams-Supertec +3.272 3. Mika Salo Ferrari +11.932

Q. Congratulations, Heinz-Harald, on your second win of the year. The first question has to be: how did you feel when you knew that Mika Hakkinen was out of the race?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: I don't know exactly what happened, but I saw him spinning off in the first chicane and I told myself, 'I can't believe it.' He had a seven second lead in front of me, but by then the gap was consistent and he wasn't going any faster. Maybe he lost concentration or something.

Q. Your race appeared to be under complete control and you didn't seem to be having any problems. Is that correct?

HHF: Well, at the beginning I was trying to keep up with Mika and I couldn't hold him, even though I was doing my best. The only worry I had was that I was planning a long first stint and I didn't know how the tyres were going to be at the end of that stint. I tried to save the tyres a little bit by not giving it too much wheelspin, but then I saw Ralf coming up and I started pushing hard towards the middle of the race. Ralf had overtaken Zanardi, so I needed to push, just to keep away from him. He seemed very competitive at that stage.

Q. Like almost everyone, you made only one pit stop. Was it plain sailing after that?

HHF: Yes. I was out longer [than Ralf], and he did a couple of quick laps, but after my stop I was clear ahead of him and the other guys. So I tried to get the car to the finish without revving the engine or abusing the tyres and brakes too much. I just tried to drive the car home.

Q. Ralf, congratulations on a superb 2nd place and your third podium finish of the year. You drove an aggressive first lap: can you tell us about it?

Ralf Schumacher: Yes, the first few corners were a bit tight. I had to take a short cut [at the first chicane] to avoid getting together with David [Coulthard]. Then I was having a fight with Mika [Salo], but I was able to hold my position. I have to say thanks to the team and also to my team mate [Alex Zanardi], who made it incredibly easy for me to get by him to drive my race. Without his help I would not have been able to finish 2nd today.

Q. So Alex was not asked by the team to let you through?

RS: No, no. We have an agreement that if one or the other of us is quicker, we don't hold each other, we help each other. At the end of the day we are driving for the team, to get the best result. I have to thank [Alex] again because he made the right choice. He deserves a big share of my 2nd place today.

Q. Mika, who was it who decided that you should push hard in 3rd place and not make any attempt to help your team mate Eddie Irvine to win some more championship points?

Mika Salo: Well, if there are two or three cars separating you, it's very difficult to do that! In fact it's impossible ...

Q. How would you describe the response of the tifosi when you went up to collect the 3rd place trophy on the podium?

MS: Unbelievable! It was great after such a bad weekend. We have been so slow all weekend that we are lucky to be in the top ten, actually. Especially being here in Italy, it was very emotional, with people crying and screaming. Just unbelievable ...

Q. After the difficulties you have had with the car, are you expecting some modified parts which might help you to beat the McLarens on the track instead of by default?

MS: We are trying very hard and there is some new stuff coming through next week. We will start testing again to help make the car better.

Q. Heinz-Harald, you've now passed David Coulthard into 3rd place in the drivers' championship. With 50 points you're also only 10 points behind the joint leaders, Mika Hakkinen and Eddie Irvine. This puts you well and truly into contention for the championship: how do you feel about this development?

HHF: Well, I can't believe it and I certainly didn't expect it. I wanted to be as quick as possible here and get the best result that I could. Still, I didn't put that calculation through my head, but obviously these ten points mean a lot to me, and especially to the [members of my] team. They are facing the biggest success in their nine years as a constructor, and it is also the biggest period of success in my F1 career. I am absolutely delighted, but I don't know how to express myself.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Mika Salo , Alex Zanardi
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Jordan