Malaysian GP Thursday Press Conference

Drivers: Pedro Diniz (Sauber) Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan) Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) Johnny Herbert (Stewart) Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) Q. Johnny, how did your family...

Drivers: Pedro Diniz (Sauber) Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan) Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) Johnny Herbert (Stewart) Eddie Irvine (Ferrari) Michael Schumacher (Ferrari)

Q. Johnny, how did your family react to your victory at the Nurburgring three weeks ago?

Johnny Herbert: The good thing about it was that when I won a GP the last time [at Monza in 1995], my daughters weren't old enough to appreciate it. This time it was good for them to be there and to be able to appreciate it. As far as I am concerned, the win has cleared my mind. This has been a problematic year [for me], and to have got that type of result and [to have been fastest in testing at Barcelona last week] has freed everything from me and made me feel a lot more confident. It has been a positive thing.

Q. Mika, you could clinch the championship here. How do you plan to approach the weekend?

Mika Hakkinen: I am trying to approach it in the normal way. There are no particular differences in our preparation for it. We had a good test at Barcelona and the car is performing better than ever. I expect it to be a challenge for all the teams and drivers because we have never raced here before, and because there hasn't been an extra day of practice. It looks a great circuit, and considering that it is brand new it is [good to see] that it hasn't been designed to be just chicanes and tight corners, it is a combination of high speed and tight corners. I think it is a fabulous track: they have done brilliant work here.

Q. Last year your main rival for the title was Michael, while this year it is Eddie. To what extent has that changed things?

MH: Not much, really. I just have to score more points than Eddie is scoring. That is the ideal thing for me to do.

Q. Are Michael and Eddie different types of competitor?

MH: (pause) Yes and no. I don't think about it that way. Looking at Eddie, he is obviously stressed just like Michael was last year. That's the way I have to approach things, and by keeping Eddie behind me just like I did with Michael last year.

Q. How vulnerable does it feel to be at the head of the championship?

MH: We still have two races to go. Looking at this circuit, for example, we have a car that is fantastic dynamically. We also have lots of horsepower, so to keep the lead in the championship it doesn't matter whether it's two points or more between us. As long as they are [behind] ...

Q. Eddie, what is your reaction to having Michael back beside you?

Eddie Irvine: It's great, because we have been together and raced together for three and a half years, working very well together. There is no question that [having him back] will help the team. We each throw in lots of different ideas, and sometimes it's mine that is best and sometimes his. We always go with whatever we think is going to be best and there are always more ideas to throw into the pot. From that aspect it is going to be good -- plus, Michael's driving ability will always be a bonus to any team [that employs him].

Q. What are your objectives here?

EI: My personal aim is to win the championship, in Japan. So what happens here isn't really important as long as I win the title in Japan. It is difficult to say whether I am going to need three points here or ten: we must just do our best to take as many points as we can, then hope that I am in with a chance in Japan, where I hope to do it. The main thing is for me to be in with a chance when we go to Japan.

Q. Can the weather work in your favour here?

EI: Well, so far this year it hasn't! Every time this year that the weather has been unpredictable we have had an incident with my car. But it's time that changed. We have looked at the things that went wrong in the previous two wet races , and I think we've got it covered. That's all we can do. There's no better man for the job of deciding what to do in wet circumstances than [our technical director] Ross Brawn, and everything will be up to him.

Q. Heinz-Harald, you and your team mate Damon Hill retired at the Nurburgring with identical electrical failures -- and you were leading at that moment. What was the feeling inside the Jordan team?

Heinz-Harald Frentzen: At moments like that everyone is very disappointed. The only thing you can do is to take things as they are and look forward. That is what I am doing now. Yes, in my situation I have a slight chance of being champion, and I am playing the role of underdog. I feel pretty confident in the situation. Even though I am 12 points behind Mika, anything can happen, but on the other hand I am not going to claim that I can win the championship, I am just enjoying the situation in which I am. Our car is getting more and more competitive with each race and we made some useful improvements in the Barcelona test. And I look forward to enjoying the new circumstances, I will try to the best I can and go flat out.

Q. Pedro, after that spectacular roll on the first lap at the Nurburgring it's nice to see you here. How did you feel on the day after that race?

Pedro Diniz: Not very well, really! I am happy to be here, too. As everyone saw on TV, what happened in that race was not very nice. It was a racing accident -- I think Alexander [Wurz] reacted automatically to avoid Damon Hill's car, which had virtually stopped in the first corner. The only worrying thing is that the roll hoop should not have broken off the way it did. It could have been very dangerous and I was very lucky. Only a few weeks ago a similar thing happened [at the same corner] in a Formula 3 race, and the guy involved is now completely paralyzed. The FIA will have to look into the whole thing and try to make the roll hoops safer, because that could have been very serious for me.

Q. Michael, tell us how you came to change your mind about racing here.

Michael Schumacher: What you can say is that I took a decision too early, before I had had an opportunity to test. Once I got that opportunity to test, I felt without having first intended to come back that I should come back, because by then I felt much better.

Q. In what way can you help Ferrari and Eddie this weekend?

MS: Drive fast and don't crash! We will try to sort out the car together right up until qualifying, and in the past both of us together have been able to do this pretty well. The other part will be the race. I feel that I should be able to qualify as normal, so we should be able to do as well then as the car allows us to do. We will see what happens then, but I will be doing as well as I possibly can. I would like to score as many points as I can for the constructors' championship -- and then if I can give Eddie a hand, that will be my second job for the weekend. I am pretty sure there will be plenty of opportunities for me to do both jobs.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mika Hakkinen , Ross Brawn , Damon Hill , Pedro Diniz
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Jordan