US GP winners' press conference

Drivers: 1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) 2. Michael Scumacher (Ferrari) 3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) Q: Well done, Mika. HAKKINEN: Thank you. Q: I've heard either from you or from elsewhere that you've been both relaxed and ...

Drivers:
1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes)
2. Michael Scumacher (Ferrari)
3. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes)

Q: Well done, Mika.

HAKKINEN: Thank you.

Q: I've heard either from you or from elsewhere that you've been both relaxed and focused, motivated this weekend. How does the balance work out? It seems to be devastating.

HAKKINEN: Definitely relaxed is the right word. And I think most of you probably I explained in the interviews what I gave, I explained that way. After Monza, obviously, after that I was relaxed. I was able to tell everybody what I planned to do in the future, and I didn't have to anymore select my words what I was going to say. So I can now focus hundred percent for my driving and take everything out of these last two Grands Prix. And it was fantastic. I had a smile on my face, and I was able to really focus this Grand Prix a hundred percent.

Q: How much were you revved up by the fact that they took away your grid position?

HAKKINEN: I was pissed off. (Laughter) I was really upset. Because in reality, you know, of course, there is no excuse, but after all, you know, when there was five cars lined up in that position where they were, it's impossible to see the light. And particularly that position where the light is and all these five cars were lined up when I was entering and that same place, there's a kink when you exit of the pit lane. So it was just physically impossible to see that light. So, of course, I was disappointed to get information from the stewards that they were giving me penalty, you know. Rules are rules, but you have to use the common sense and understand, you know, if you cannot see, you cannot see. So I was, you know, I was really looking forward to see some stewards on the podium, to be honest, earlier. (Laughter) So you can imagine what could have happened.

COULTHARD: The keyword was common sense.

HAKKINEN: Yeah, yeah.

Q: In fifth place early on, did you still think could you do it? Did you think you had a chance when you were in fifth?

HAKKINEN: I'm sorry?

Q: When you were in fifth place early on, did you still think you could win?

HAKKINEN: I didn't really at that point think about that too much. I was just focusing for the lap time and consistency and not making a mistake and drive my own race; and that's it, you know, and trying to get the perfect line all the time. So I didn't think about that when I was running fifth.

Q: Your one-stop strategy, whereas Rubens was on a two-stop. Did you consider two stops at all?

HAKKINEN: There was definitely different calculations and different options. We just end up in this option. It was most logical, and we were confident with the car, that we can carry the fuel. We were confident with the tires that they can take it. And it worked out fantastically.

Q: And you're in the spare car, I think?

HAKKINEN: No.

Q: You didn't in the end?

HAKKINEN: No, there was definitely the plan to do that, but then they were able to fix the race car for the race, and they gave me the race (car) because it was OK.

Q: Obviously, it was fine.

HAKKINEN: Obviously, it was fine, indeed.

Q: Thanks, Mika. Well done. Michael, today it did not seem that you had a winning car. What was lacking from it today?

SCHUMACHER: Well, I think in the end you have to say that the tire choice didn't look to be the right one because the consistency advantage we thought to have, and yet we didn't have. But that's something when you work out something for Friday, not always it relates to Sunday; and temperatures were quite different on Friday. We thought we made the right decision, but then sometimes it's not the case. I say that with not knowing all the factors. Maybe afterward we find out there's other reasons. But for the moment that's what it looks like.

Q: What was the thinking behind the two different strategies, yours and Rubens?

SCHUMACHER: Obviously, where Rubens was, there was no way to overtake on a one-stop strategy somebody, and so he took the aggressive strategy in order to overtake, which worked out.

Q: You were obviously happy to let him through when he came up behind you? SCHUMACHER: Yeah, that's the way the team works. Q: Yeah. So, second, are you happy with second today? SCHUMACHER: Yeah, no, that's not -- after the way the race went, you have to be happy with second. I have to actually say we were a bit fortunate. I mean, Montoya stopped. I don't know whether I would have been in front of him after the pit stop. He wouldn't have retired and, obviously, with Rubens, which is very disappointing. Q: Thank you, Michael. David, you haven't been happy with the car earlier on in the weekend. How was it during the race itself? COULTHARD: Well, I still had a lot of oversteer, and there's no question I don't really deserve to be third in terms of place, but that's the way the races work out sometimes. I think as you maybe said, I've had my fair share of mechanical problems. So I'll take the points and say thank you. Q: How hard was Nick Heidfeld pushing you early on? COULTHARD: Not really at all because he was never close coming out of the last corner. You know, it doesn't matter how close you get through the infield. There's not really much you can do unless the other driver runs wide. So to be honest, I wasn't paying too much attention to him. I was concentrating on my own race, trying to keep the car on the circuit and be consistent. You know, we only made one mistake at the end of the main straight the whole race, which I'm quite happy with, given how difficult I found the car to drive. And, you know, it was just a personal battle, me and the car. Q: With four points at the end. COULTHARD: Yeah. So a good day, I think, all around for the team. Q: Indeed. Thank you very much. Some questions from the floor? Q: Two questions for Michael. One, you said earlier that you were taken by surprise by Montoya. My question is: Did he behave correctly with you, in your opinion? My second question is: How did you -- SCHUMACHER: In the overtaking? Q: In the overtaking. SCHUMACHER: Oh, yeah, sure. Q: OK. The second question is: Two weeks ago you were in a very different mood. Today, this weekend, the Americans are showing you a tremendous support and enthusiasm. How do you feel compared with two weeks ago and do you have anything to say to the fans here? SCHUMACHER: I think I said a lot of things already over the whole weekend, and that's what basically is the case. If you look into the face of the people here, you see joy and happiness coming back to their faces. That's something I guess we, at least for the people who are here, we are some part of the reason for that. That makes us happy feeling that we're doing the right thing for the people here. Q: Question in the front row here, two in the front row then. Q: Mika, once you're in a sabbatical, if you decide it's going to become a retirement, would you look at today's victory as an exclamation point on your career? HAKKINEN: Highlight you mean? (Laughter) This Grand Prix is definitely one of my most important victories. Because I rate Monaco, Silverstone and Indianapolis, I think, these are the Grands Prix, what a Grand Prix driver wants to win, you know. It's something special. So definitely this is something I'm never going to forget. It's just great. Everything this week has been going so fantastic here, except the morning -- and Friday morning. (Laughter) Oh, no, actually, it wasn't that easy. (Laughter) But this is definitely a fantastic day for me. Q: Michael, Juan Pablo made a run on you at the start, did he get a tow? Or can you tell us what you did -- did you protect your line or did you just go off -- I mean go ahead? SCHUMACHER: Obviously, he was very close, and it's obvious what he's going to do then when he's close, taking the slipstream and going for an overtaking. As we are allowed to choose one -- to change the line, I went to the inside and gave him the outside, which he tried. And I braked late enough not to let him through, but that wasn't enough. He came later again. Q: Some more questions, please. Q: One for Mika. Were you concerned at all after Rubens' stop when he was closing in on you? HAKKINEN: Definitely, yes. Definitely. I was, you know, I was pushing really hard, and at that moment the car didn't feel really good. Every time I was losing quite a lot of time in a couple of corners, and I knew it wasn't a good thing, and Rubens was definitely catching. I thought, well, this is it, you know. I'll just have to hope, hope something happens. And luckily it was some not so many more laps left; and finally, finally it looks like the engine blew up or something. So after that, it was quite interesting. Q: One questioner here and another for the back. Q: Michael, many people have said that the Grand Prix would never work in America. Today there was 200,000 people. What do you think of the future of Formula One in America and at this track, as well? SCHUMACHER: Well, I think after seeing a great public last year and number of people attending the race, everybody wasn't sure what's going to happen in the second year. And seeing what has happened in the second year makes you obviously very happy that Formula One in America seems to have a lot of supporters. It's always great to feel to come back here then all the time if people really accept us to be here. Q: Michael, Ross Brawn quoted that you considered retirement, which is in clear contradiction with what you said earlier, that you're not considering retirement at least for a couple of years. Where lies the truth? I'm a little confused. SCHUMACHER: I think you should not believe what press is writing about his comments. You should rather ask what he really said, and then you will find out quite a difference, and you will find out that he hasn't said I'm retiring -- and I'm not retiring, that's pretty sure. So you know -- HAKKINEN: Think about it. (Laughter) You're not young anymore, Michael. SCHUMACHER: I guess he's going to rethink his decision after Suzuka if he's going to win another one. (Laughter) Q: Any more questions? Q: This is for Michael. Drivers in the Indianapolis 500 will say that even on a day where the weather stays pretty much the same like today, the track will change fairly significantly from the start of the race to the end of the race. Did you -- well, for any of you three, did you notice any significant change in the track during the course of the race? SCHUMACHER: Not really, no. Q: I think the answer is no. Q: This is for David. After last year with the penalty for the rolling start, do you feel a little bit redeemed to get a podium here this year?

COULTHARD: Well, I feel the same as Mika in that Indianapolis is one of the bigger races. You only get 10 points for winning any of them, but it's definitely one of the bigger races. I was standing up on the podium here thinking, yeah, this is nice to be on the podium at Indianapolis more than maybe a third in other places. But, you know, it was quite straightforward last year. I jumped the lights, and you pay the price. I feel fortunate today because I didn't overtake anyone, and I went from seventh to third. (Laughter)

Q: Mika, the question that the American public would ask now is would you ever consider a ride in the Indy 500?

HAKKINEN: Me? (Laughter)

COULTHARD: You are Mika Hakkinen, right? (Laughter)

HAKKINEN: No, the 500 you mean? (Laughter) No, no. No, definitely not. I personally, personally I do find that -- the word too dangerous isn't probably exactly the right one, but it's a bit too much.

Q: How about the Brickyard 400? (Laughter)

HAKKINEN: That sounds better. (Laughter)

Q: For Mika. If you should do it again in Suzuka, could this have any effect on your future decision about coming back or not? (Laughter)

HAKKINEN: No, definitely not. No.

Q: Michael, now that we know for sure that Mika is retiring at Suzuka, what are you going to miss about racing him?

SCHUMACHER: Well, if the question were that I miss something, he takes away always points from me. (Laughter)

HAKKINEN: Sometimes.

SCHUMACHER: No. We have had great battles in many of our years. I mean, we have been racing in Formula 3 days together, and we keep on racing in these days, and that's, obviously, a great part of my career, which I have enjoyed. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But that's what racing is about, competing; and one big competitor is going to go. So you feel sad, to some degree.

Q: Mika, if you could kind of answer that type of question from your point of view. Because as each era in Formula One has, there's always been a couple of drivers who kind of symbolized the rivalry on track; and you'll always be linked with Michael.

HAKKINEN: That's why I'm leaving, because he paid me too much, you know. I can't handle it anymore. (Laughter) Now even his brother is coming, you know. (Laughter)

Q: But reflecting back.

HAKKINEN: Well, definitely. You know, I think we probably should talk about that more in Suzuka when it is the last Grand Prix and remember. After all, the plan is just to have a break. So there's no point to talk too much.

Q: OK, thank you very much, indeed, gentlemen. Thank you.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Nick Heidfeld , Ross Brawn
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren