Sepang, October/ 16/ 1999 1999 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING Schumacher's pole puts spice into the championship chase Michael Schumacher's return to competition after three months recovery produced a sensational pole position for the ...
Sepang, October/ 16/ 1999 1999 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING
Schumacher's pole puts spice into the championship chase
Michael Schumacher's return to competition after three months recovery produced a sensational pole position for the Ferrari driver at the new Sepang circuit today. Championship contenders Eddie Irvine (60 points) and Mika Hakkinen (62 points) will start from 2nd and 4th places in a race which promises some interesting tactics.
Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "Because this is a new circuit to F1, and because the weather has been different on the two days of practice, it is difficult to evaluate the difference in degradation -- or even in lap times - between the Soft and Extra Soft dry compounds which we brought here. Our estimate is a difference of between 0.3 and 0.5 second between the two. The safest tactic for those drivers on Extra Soft will almost certainly be to choose three sets of tyres and to make two stops, while those using the Soft compound will probably chose to make just one stop. Compared to other circuits, the degradation is unlikely to be a problem, even on the Extra Soft. Because of the changeable weather here it may be necessary to continue running on the dry tyres even in damp conditions. The transitional lap time, which will decide whether or not to make a change to wets, is in the region of 1m 57/58 seconds. Although the circuit is well drained, even in hot weather it takes quite a long time for the surface to dry out completely."
Ross Brawn, Ferrari Team, Technical Director: "Both cars have worked well today. Michael put in an exceptional lap to take pole position. I believe Eddie could have been gone quicker at the end of the session, but we wanted to save some tyres for the race. It was the right decision not to go out again. I believe it is going to be tricky tomorrow because the weather is an important factor here. In fact, after seeing the forecast for today I am surprised that it did not rain this afternoon. Sepang is a lovely track. The surface offers good grip and the car is responding very well to changes in setup. I am not sure whether we will much overtaking tomorrow, because after two days of practice there is only one clean line. But at least the track is nice and wide, which may help the faster drivers to find their way more easily past the slower ones."
Steve Hallam, Chief Engineer, West McLaren Mercedes: "This has been a very impressive come-back for Michael. He should be congratulated on the efforts he has made to get fit and well enough to drive so competitively. As for ourselves, we must now concentrate on the race and prepare for whatever tomorrow may bring. The factors that will ensure this remains an open race are the weather, which may be hot but may also be wet. Our time this evening will be occupied with thinking about the options and opportunities which may arise."
TEMPERATURES AIR TRACK WEATHER Morning 29º-33 33º-41 Sunny - dry Afternoon 32º-36 50º-51 Sunny - dry