Luxembourg GP Thursday Press Conference

Grand Prix of Luxembourg Nurburgring Thursday 24 September 1998 "Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) NB: Team chiefs Jean Todt (Ferrari) and Ron Dennis ...

Grand Prix of Luxembourg Nurburgring Thursday 24 September 1998 "Thursday Four" press conference -- Drivers: Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) NB: Team chiefs Jean Todt (Ferrari) and Ron Dennis (McLaren) were unable to attend, due to their presence at a meeting of the F1 Commission _________________________________________________________________ Q. Welcome, gentlemen. May we ask you each, first, to evaluate for us what you each consider to be your own strengths, and the strengths of your opposition? We are thinking in terms of factors like car performance and team strategy. MH: It would be too personal for me to describe myself. But talking of the strengths of our team, you have very clearly seen [where we are strong] since the start of the season. Unfortunately the last Grand Prix didn't show us many good things. But we have an extremely competitive package and our car definitely still feels as though it is the fastest on the track. We have a very powerful, strong engine -- let's try to forget the last Grand Prix! -- and a strong chassis which was designed extremely carefully. We also have good, reliable tyres. If you look back, you will see that our performances this year have been extremely good. The experience, commitment and work of the members of the team is really good. They are all motivated and excited about the championship, which they are committed to win. MS: Our strongest point has been reliability. This is due to loads of winter testing, when we concentrated on that. At the beginning of the season we were a little short of speed, due to the car and several other factors. But now we have a package which is close to the top. We have won races, and been competitive, at different types of circuit. We were even competitive at Monza, which was not expected by many people. Overall I believe there is a 50-50 opportunity to win the championship. We have to make the most of the last two races, just as we have done in other races. Q. Mika, you have suffered recently with unreliability both in racing and testing. How do you feel about that? MH: I suppose it is true that we have been giving a few presents away [to the opposition] due to the reliability problems we have had. But the team continues to work on a solution, and I am hoping that this race will allow us to prove once again that the McLaren-Mercedes is the strongest and fastest car in F1. Q. Are you confident that your people have got on top of those problems? MH: Yes. Obviously, for a driver, reliability is something that he will think about, because he must have a commitment to his team, in his driving. But if something goes wrong with the car, in practice or racing, it can sometimes be difficult for the driver to react to that situation at all. It just happens. But when you come to a Grand Prix you aren't wondering what might go wrong, you're here to race flat out, and to win. That has to be the mentality. Q. Michael, despite your own car's excellent reliability I understand that you had some problems in testing last week. What happened? MS: Basically, the things that appeared to have gone wrong involved either experimental parts being tested for next year, or parts that had a very high mileage on them. So we are not really concerned about this issue. Our base has not changed and I do not expect any [reliability] problems. Q. With the pressure building on you both, how do you see your tasks here? MS: Judging from the pressure that you may feel here in the press room, and also judging the people who are around me, my experience is that they are far more nervous than I am when I am driving my racing car, because I am fully confident when I am doing my job. Yes, there are moments when you get a little feeling [of nervousness] in your stomach, but most of those moments come long before the race starts. But once that moment has gone and you are involved in the race, you can concentrate on what you are used to doing. You don't even think about it. It's like making a phone call when you are driving your passenger car, it comes completely automatically and you don't even think about it. Maybe it will change and I will have a different experience [of pressure], but so far it has always been like that for me. Q. Is that because you have been in a similar situation several times before? MS: I think it varies from person to person. When I know I will be playing football, I feel far more nervous than I do when I am driving my racing car. It varies on the things that you do, on whether you feel confident about them or not, and from person to person. Q. For you Mika, is the pressure harder to bear because you have not been in this position before? MH: Formula 1 generally involves a lot of pressure, and there are always pressures on a driver in terms of performance, and in different situations. Looking back on my career as a racing driver before I came to F1, there have been difficult and very competitive situations. Pressure is something that you must handle naturally. I believe that anyone who gets into a car to go racing is confident about his abilities and his talent. If you are not confident, that is when pressure starts building up and you are likely to start making mistakes. Although there isn't any real pressure if you know what you are doing, it would be wrong for me to say that there is no pressure. I just think you have to turn it in such a way that it becomes positive pressure. Q. What developments have your tyre suppliers been able to offer you both for this race? MS: As usual, we have done loads of testing. Last week we were at Mugello and Fiorano to sort out the tyre situation for this circuit, and we think we have sorted out what will be the right answer for the tyres. It is consistent developments. MH: We also tested the tyres we will be running here. There are very good, very consistent, and we were very happy. We have to wait until tomorrow -- and until Saturday and Sunday -- before we find out exactly how well they run here.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen , Jean Todt
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren