San Marino Qualifying Press Conference

Saturday 25 April 1998 Qualifying: 1. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes), 1:25.973s; 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:26.075s; 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:26.786s Q. David, congratulations on the seventh pole...

Saturday 25 April 1998 Qualifying: 1. David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes), 1:25.973s; 2. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:26.075s; 3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:26.786s Q. David, congratulations on the seventh pole position of your career. After being 0.8 second faster than Mika this morning, you must be happy with your day's work ... DC: Yes, although I found that the [warmer] conditions made it a little more difficult this afternoon. As quite often happens when the track temperature changes, the balance of the car also changes. I didn't have quite as much confidence this afternoon as I did in the morning. I therefore didn't have as much confidence to attack the corners, and fastest time could easily have slipped away. I am thankful that it is still there. Q. Did you regain confidence as the session progressed? DC: Not really. In fact I only picked up three tenths from my first run. You always try to be as fast as possible on the first run, but you must not expect too much because it's a long walk back if you get it wrong. I had expected to gain even more time on the later runs, but we made a change to the car for the second run -- which wasn't an improvement -- so we changed back for the third run, which was quicker. On the fourth and final run I made a mistake. I am glad that no one else improved more than I did. Q. This morning you complained about understeer. Have you eliminated that? DC: It was slightly worse in these hotter conditions: I had more push. That was part of the problem, not being able to attack the corners. This morning I was able to slide the whole car in four-wheel drifts, which meant I could carry plenty of speed on entry. With the extra push this afternoon I had to go in a little slower, otherwise I would have been missing the apex. Q. All the extra speed you found in qualifying seems to have come from a much faster time through the third sector. Is that where you feel you are driving at your best? DC: Not really. The car does not feel as good as it could have been through the second Rivazza, certainly not as good as it was this morning. I lost more there, relatively, in car balance. But I have always been reasonably good through that section, and it has always been the middle section where I have needed to do the extra work. Maybe the third section just suits my driving style, but the car could be better as well. Q. Mika, congratulations on having qualified on the front row for your 100th Grand Prix. Are you disappointed not to have taken pole position? MH: To be honest, yes, I am disappointed. It is always better to be on pole than in second place, but the race is going to be long and tough. You never can tell what's going to happen tomorrow. Q. You were quicker than David in the first two sectors and lost time in the third. Were you unhappy with the third sector? MH: Yes, my tyres went off in the last sector and I just was not able to keep the lap time together in the last sector, and I lost all the time through there. It really is a shame. Maybe I should have taken it a bit differently. Q. What about the race? How are you going to beat David? MH: It depends. The start will be important, of course. And if they [Ferrari] can do what they did in Argentina ... you never know, but I doubt they will do that. The race is going to be very hard. The temperatures are going to be hot, there are questions about reliability, pitstops, tactics, everything can affect it The tyres are going to be very important. You have all seen how the consistency of the Bridgestones has been extremely good over long runs. We should be extremely good in the race, so I don't see any problems with that. Q. Michael, you had plenty of confidence on Thursday. Were you confident about being able to beat the McLarens, or were you thinking in terms of being third? MS: The confidence was that I thought I would split [the McLarens] like I did in Argentina. We failed, but I think that their tyres worked quite a lot better than they worked in Argentina. That makes the gap bigger again in comparison. If you look at qualifying, the gap is not too big. I failed in the last corner, I lost a couple of tenths there. So I'm reasonably happy because comparing Friday and this morning, I thought the gap would be bigger. But we still had some fuel on board, and that was probably the reason. Q. Can you beat the McLarens in the race? MS: I will try. Q. What is going to make a big difference? Tyre choice? MS: I heard it will rain tomorrow! Q. You said this morning that the handling of the car was nervous. Were you happier with it in qualifying? MS: Yes, we improved it, and think we can still improve it here and there. We have some things to do overnight which we want to try tomorrow morning. If there is anything, then the gap is going to be closer. Q. Today was the first time you used the sidepod wings. Did you find them beneficial? MS: I have not made a straightforward comparison. Our wind tunnel says it is better -- so it should be better. You have to trust certain data and certain engineers. They have been quite right so far, why should they be wrong now?

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