Japanese GP Saturday Press Conference

DRIVERS 1. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 2. Mike Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 3. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes QUESTION : Congratulations, Michael, you seem to have had a very enjoyable time this weekend. How do you feel about being...

DRIVERS 1. Michael Schumacher Ferrari 2. Mike Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 3. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes

QUESTION : Congratulations, Michael, you seem to have had a very enjoyable time this weekend. How do you feel about being on pole again today ?

Michael SCHUMACHER I have enjoyed it at least today. Yesterday was a bit of a struggle because the circuit was very slippery, the tyres were getting old and you don't want to waste a set of new tyres (in those conditions). But today we made reasonable progress. The car feels good and I was able to improve consistently in qualifying.

QUESTION : Your team mate Eddie Irvine will start from 5th place tomorrow. How will that affect your tactics for the race ?

Michael SCHUMACHER I don't think my tactics will change. It is very clear that the best thing that can happen for us is if I can win the race. I will give the most help I can for Eddie and the team. That will be the strategy.

QUESTION : Mika, you were matching Michael's lap times until the last two rounds this afternoon, until you had a strange incident involving Jean Alesi at the chicane. What exactly happened there?

Mika HAKKINEN I don't know what words I can use! It was an unusual situation to have someone overtaking you backwards when you're in the last chicane and about to start your flying lap ... I understand Alesi was on a flying lap, while I was starting my lap very slowly from the chicane because that way I could get the best possible exit speed coming on to the main straight. Obviously he was driving so close to me and braking so late that there was no way he could avoid me without going straight through the chicane -- and he spun in front of me. When he spun I had to turn left very sharply to avoid crashing into him. It is a very unusual situation from a driver with as much experience as he has ...

QUESTION : Do you think the car was good enough to have taken pole position today ?

Mika HAKKINEN I don't know (laughs) -- I didn't get the chance at the end of the day. The circuit was getting slightly better all the time, so you were able to improve all the time, and with the changes that you do to the car normally make it quicker. So I did not really get the possibility for the last chance.

QUESTION : With Eddie starting fifth and you in second place on the grid, that theoretically gives you the four points advantage you need to retain the championship. What will your tactics be for the race ?

Mika HAKKINEN Follow the lights ! Go to the starting grid and see what happens at the lights. Once they change we can start planning. Those are the first tactics.

QUESTION : Welcome, David. You'll be starting from third place on the grid although you're probably not happy with that, but was it the best you could get out of the car today ?

David COULTHARD Well, clearly the car is capable of doing quicker times, and Mika has been quicker [than me] all weekend. Given that I have been struggling a bit in the first sector, it represents what is not a bad qualifying (session) for me. It is obviously beneficial for the team that Eddie has had a bad qualifying session, so maybe I will be able to help a little bit in the race, to try and give Mika the four-plus points that he needs.

QUESTION : Do you see yourself playing a holding role, by holding Eddie up?

David COULTHARD First of all, we just have to wait and see what happens. Your question assumes that all the cars are running, and running reliably. And as you will know, in Formula One that is a little presumptuous. We have to get into the race and see how all our cars are working, then take it from there.

QUESTION : Michael, you have been going well today while Eddie has had several major problems. Will you be helping overnight to sort out his car's setup ?

Michael SCHUMACHER Certainly. We are a team and we will be working with each other very deeply in terms of setup. Whatever information he wants he will have available. Obviously he has the number one package, which is normal. All number one parts go to him and I am driving the second class ... if you can call it that, because to be honest we have only number one parts. We will see how we can improve his situation for tomorrow. If I win, he only needs to be fourth: that is one strategy, and at the moment things look good for that.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren