In an impressive display of perfect team work, Ferrari drivers Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher controlled the Malaysian Grand Prix from start to finish. On a day when the Italian cars outperformed the McLarens, Schumacher took a brief lead...
In an impressive display of perfect team work, Ferrari drivers Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher controlled the Malaysian Grand Prix from start to finish. On a day when the Italian cars outperformed the McLarens, Schumacher took a brief lead before conceding it to Irvine. Schumacher then sustained minor damage to his car when David Coulthard forced his McLaren-Mercedes into 2nd place, but the Scotsman retired after only 12 laps. Gambling on one pit stop, Schumacher conceded the lead to Irvine and was able to continue to an unchallenged 2nd place while championship challenger Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) took on Johnny Herbert's Stewart in a successful bid for 3rd place.
Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "Although there was only a small degree of degradation with our tyres today, the wear rate of the Extra Soft compound was aggravated by the hot conditions. As we saw on the cars of Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the Extra Soft tyre was therefore on the limit of its endurance with only one pit stop. Once David Coulthard's McLaren had retired, it was the slight performance advantage of the Extra Soft tyres which allowed Schumacher and Irvine to control the race for Ferrari."
Ross Brawn, Ferrari Team, Technical Director: "We were not very sure what we had to do today for the race strategy. We were getting some confusing messages from the work we did with the tyres throughout the last two days. It was not absolutely clear to me what we should do. But as the race developed we were able to take advantage on Michael's car of the one-stop option that we had left ourselves. In the position that he found himself, that was the logical choice. Michael had always said that he would come back to work for Ferrari and that is exactly what he did. He has sometimes been misunderstood, especially by the media, so it was a pleasure to see him keep his promise. Everyone at Ferrari knows him as a true gentleman, and this fantastic result proves us right. It has to be said that McLaren did not look too comfortable today: maybe they will be a bit stronger at Suzuka. At least this result will take the championship to Suzuka, which is where Eddie has always wanted it to be settled."
Gary Anderson, Ford Stewart Grand Prix, Technical Director: "Because we expected to be faced with a difficult gamble today, we planned to have one pit stop for Johnny and two for Rubens. The problem with the one stop strategy was that although it was slightly faster, when Johnny stopped we couldn't get all the fuel in because the tank on our car is relatively small. For the last few laps he was saving gear and having to change gear earlier to save fuel. Otherwise we could have beaten Hakkinen. The reason for our recent good results is that we have worked hard to make the team strong enough to start the weekend with the cars in good condition from Friday, to make a competitive weekend. Next week we haven't programme any tests. Everybody except me is having a holiday before Japan, while I go back to work!"
NOTE: THIS IS ISSUED SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION OF THE PROVISIONAL RESULTS