Pole position press conference 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:22.088s 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 1:22.219s 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:22.244s excerpts from TV unilaterals and press conference Q. Congratulations,...
Pole position press conference
1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:22.088s 2. Eddie Irvine (Ferrari), 1:22.219s 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:22.244s
excerpts from TV unilaterals and press conference
Q. Congratulations, Mika, this makes five pole positions in a row for you. What's your reaction?
Mika Hakkinen: It would be good if we could be getting a world championship point for pole position. That would help me a lot.
Q. You only did one really fast run today ...
MH: That's all you need, at the end of the day. But again it was a very difficult, very challenging qualifying session, like they have all been so far this season. The times are very close and the cars are very competitive. So qualifying is down to getting the lap right, getting on to the circuit at the right time and getting the setup right. That's what it's all about. It was our engineers, working together, with David and with the whole team, who managed to get the best out of the car. And I was able to take the pole.
Q. Does the balance feel good?
MH: It's definitely improving. I think we have done good work since yesterday in improving the balance. But there is still some more to come, and more work to be done on the car, to achieve the balance in the chassis that David and I would prefer to have. We are going to maximise it this weekend.
Q. Has there been a moment during the two days when you felt it wasn't going well for you?
MH: When I was in the press conference here on Thursday, one of the questions that was asked was about this being a McLaren circuit and us being able to go flat out. But I said to hold on, it isn't as simple as that. I didn't believe we should think that way -- and I was right. The competition and the lap times are very close. OK, I am on pole position, but the gaps to the second and third places are extremely small, so it cannot be that straightforward. In fact it has been very difficult.
Q. So you were never confident?
MH: Inside yourself, of course you have confidence in the team. But I am never confident enough to be able to say, yes, I am going to be quickest. But we were quickest ... and it was very positive.
Q. Eddie, we saw you sitting on the pit wall when Mika went quickest. You seem to be philosophical not to have kept pole position ...
Eddie Irvine: Yes, I was [philosophical]. If anyone had told me before the weekend that I would be starting this race from second place on the grid, I don't think I would have believed it. I am very pleased because for some strange reason the car has been much better this weekend than it was during testing here, when it was a complete disaster. Everywhere we have been this year the car had been really well balanced, but when we came here for the final test last week I was a long way off the pace. I just couldn't drive the car fast then. But when we came here yesterday the car felt good straightaway. Today pole position was a definite possibility, but I couldn't get the car good both at the start and the finish of the lap, it could only be one or the other. Then on my best lap I made a mistake in the middle. Pole position was there [for me], and there was the potential [for me] to go a little quicker. But I cannot complain.
Q. Where does this leave you as far as your team mate Michael Schumacher is concerned?
EI: Ahead of him. I hope to be able to beat these two guys away from the start. If I don't beat Mika I will just take him off at the first corner! No ... hopefully I can beat them off the line, then just pull away and win the race.
MH: Eddie, you're going to have to catch me first ...
Q. We heard yesterday how tricky the cross winds can be here ...
EI: The wind is tricky every day, at every circuit, especially here. But you saw it for the first time in Australia, where the wind was behind the tails of all the cars at a certain corner and almost everybody went off the road. This year's cars are hyper-sensitive to the wind now, because of the tyres.
Q. How tricky was it in qualifying today with much less wind?
EI: As I said, I don't understand it. My car hasn't been affected so much by the wind this weekend. I have an idea why, but I am not about to tell you ...
Q. David, this morning you lost part of the session when the suspension broke on your car. What exactly happened?
DC: I don't know why it broke in that corner, but the team is taking a close look at the data and the part itself to try to understand why it broke. But there is certainly no concern that we have a problem with that particular part, it seems to have been an isolated failure which could have been caused by any number of things.
Q. Was it a very unpleasant moment?
DC: Not really. It's only nasty when you hit something. A spin itself, though confusing at the time, is no big problem. And yesterday it happened in time to let me stop and get back into the pit lane. Usually that sort of thing happens to me after the pit lane entrance ...
Q. There was one moment out there this afternoon when you were going faster in the first two sectors on your second lap than ever before, but you came into the pits instead of continuing. Why didn't you complete the lap?
DC: First of all, I was only intending to do one timed lap on that particular run. And you don't carry extra fuel just for the fun of it ...
Q. Eddie, everyone's had a lot of work to do today, and presumably you have taken the opportunity to evaluate both the Soft and Medium Bridgestone tyre. In your estimation, how many pit stops will each involve?
EI: It doesn't matter. Either tyre will be good for one stop.