San Marino Saturday press conference

Drivers: David Coulthard Mika Häkkinen Ralf Schumacher David, Everybody seemed to go out early and put in a banker lap but your car was still up on the jacks - what was the problem? <B>David Coulthard: We just had some problems in the...

Drivers: David Coulthard Mika Häkkinen Ralf Schumacher

David, Everybody seemed to go out early and put in a banker lap but your car was still up on the jacks - what was the problem?

<B>David Coulthard: We just had some problems in the morning session which just took a while to sort out. The guys worked very hard, they were up until four this morning building another car so it's a surprise but I'm delighted to get the pole position. I'm putting it down to the glasses because I saw Mika wearing his blue ones last week and I thought I'd go for orange today.

It must have been a gamble on set-up with the possible changes in weather but you put in the fastest lap of Imola, the previous record.

DC: Obviously things are moving forward with tyre development and I think the cars, with these regulations, have slowed down but you can see how close the competition is and we all move forward.

Mika, at what stage was it decided that you were going to take the traditional approach and do four runs of three laps when Ferrari took the reverse and did three runs of four?

Mika Häkkinen: We weren't very confident with the conditions so that's why we took a different approach.

It was very, very exciting at the end - what made you miss out on the final lap?

MH: This is very simple because whatever it's nice to see David on pole. There have been many occasions when I've been in front of David so it's great!

Ralf, you left it very, very late today why was that?

<B>Ralf Schumacher: Well I didn't expect that we would be that quick. We go best when the track is warm and there is a lot of rubber and then we seemed to get it right. BMW provided us with another great engine, we changed a few things overnight and the tyres seemed to work well in qualifying.

What do you think of the weather forecast for tomorrow?

RS: To be honest I hope it stays dry. We've had a lot of bad luck in that at every Grand Prix except for Australia it has rained so I hope it stays dry.

Back to McLaren, David you're ahead of Mika on the grid and in the points with your 26 to Mika's one.

MH: Oh come on!

DC: There's a long way in this race to go, and qualifying's only one part of it. Look at the results I've got this year from qualifying low down so hopefully we'll have a good start and I'll have a reliable car and do the bestr we can.

David, congratulations, winning the last race and on pole for this one you're riding high at the moment I think.

DC: I'm a little surprised. My guys did a lot of work on the car overnight, working on the car until four o'clock I think, and the first time I drove it this morning I didn't feel that comfortable in the damp conditions. It really was a case of changing the car through qualifying and we made some changes right before the last run and it worked well so all credit to the guy's.

So was it the perfect lap?

DC: After the first chicane I didn't think that it was going to be good enough because it just wasn't a handful enough to know that you're absolutely on the limit. I prefer just to feel the car move around a little bit on the exit to know that I've got the maximum out of my acceleration and it felt quite calm and I don't know if it was the quickest lap but clearly it was good enough for today. I knew I had to push on the last run but I felt I was already at the limit of the car so it really was a journey into the unknown and you're either going to look great or you're going to look silly and with each corner I was just thinking 'I'm getting away with it, I'm getting away with it' and it's a good feeling to keep it together.

How much of a lottery is it going to be tomorrow?

DC: I think we've all got good experience here of this circuit so only if the weather's changing, particularly now that there's another tyre manufacturer, because at certain points you'll either be on the right tyre or the wrong tyre.

Mika, how damp was it at the start?

MH: It was a bit particularly down into the Minerale. That was one of the trickiest corners, it was a bit damp, and at that time Michael had the pole and I was second about three tenths behind him and most of the difference came actually in the mid section. The Minerale was just the most difficult corner.

Now you're team mate's on pole position, are you confident.

MH: Oh absolutely, I mean you're talking about a great achievement from the team. Obviously looking back to the start of the season how we performed in qualifying and the finishing of Grands Prix I think it's a fabulous situation to have two McLarens on the front row at Imola. It shows what hard work really can achieve and I think it's great that David's on pole, he's very confident and it's going to be good.

How have the past few races been for you?

MH: It's been difficult. Unfortunately I do have experience from the past when the first Grands Prix don't go so well but I'm not too worried yet. Many things can happen through the year so I'm not that worried about it.

Ralf, how have things gone over the last couple of days?

RS: Well things have been going well even when we were eight tenths off the Ferraris yesterday I just said straightaway 'well, the Ferraris tend to be quick here on Fridays to get the crowds in on Saturday and Sunday.' My brother didn't like that, he said 'you wait and see tomorrow' and it's a shame that it didn't work out for him today. I'm sure he will do his part tomorrow, they have a competitive car that always shows in the race - besides Brazil - so we'll see.

How much grief is he going to give you for bumping him off the top three?

RS: You always say I'm the smaller one but in fact I'm a little bigger and heavier so I think he's not coming too close to me to be honest!

When did you last outqualify him?

RS: I can't remember actually.

MH: Then lie!

RS: It was never in Formula One I guess so I can't remember. Anyway this year I've always had a good qualifying and something happens in the race to me so Rubens is a bit further away from me this time so we'll see.

What about tyres in the dry here, is it a gamble on a new circuit for Michelin?

RS: No, you see today that we like high temperature and a lot of rubber on the circuit. Tomorrow I don't see a problem. We saw in Brazil it was a better car in the race and so we'll see.

Mika, you appeared to be slightly up on the splits for about two thirds of the lap and then you seemed to lose about three tenths on the last sector, was that a mistake?

MH: Well, looking at the data I was certainly losing some time on the braking. In a couple of the last corners. The last run was really maximising but I was just behind the Michael on my last run and it was difficult to get the maximum braking point... excellent excuse!

David, how does it feel to end Ferrari's run of poles on home ground.

DC: It's not as personal as it being Ferrari, I'm just pleased to be on pole. I'm very sorry for all the Italian supporters of Ferrari - we'll try not to do it again!

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , McLaren