Pole Position Press Conference

Official FIA Pole Position Press conference, Saturday Sept 23

Pole Position Press Conference

1, Michael Schumacher2, David Coulthard
3, Mika Hakkinen

Q. Michael, at the start of this afternoon's qualifying either you were very brave or you must have had a very accurate weather forecast, because you sat there while everyone else went out immediately. How did you know it was not going to rain?
Michael Schumacher: I was hoping! Initially the circuit is always a little bit slower. I was confident it was not going to rain, honestly ... Even though, when I went out, I got a few spots on my visor and I was concerned. So I pushed a bit harder, to finish the lap early and to get in my lap.

MS: Basically, yes. There is such a long straight here that we played a bit of team tactics, just as these other two guys did in the end.

MS: Don't worry. Yes!

David Coulthard: Well ... (MH: 'It was my idea!') ... Adrian Newey came across and asked if it would help for Mika to give me a tow. To which my answer was, of course, that it would help. It did work quite well for me, and although I am not sure exactly how much time it gave me, it certainly gave me a little bit down the straight.

DC: Although this is a longer straight, with a longer period of time spent running flat out, than we have at other tracks, I think the same set-up strategy will apply tomorrow, because you still need to be able to get through the infield section. So, yes, there will probably be some wing being taken off, but it's still important to make sure you have the quickest race car.

Mika Hakkinen: Not really, no. I'd do it again depending on the situation, of course, but this time it was ideal. Looking at the starting grid, anyway. It is a bit weird, though, because it is all asphalt on the starting grid. So, when you do your start, you're going to lose traction very easily going over those little bumps. So the second row isn't bad, after all.

MH: Well ... At the moment we go into the race tomorrow we both expect to win. Me and also David. Let's wait and see how the race goes. We will have to understand what chances we have, which positions we are able to get. So let's see how the race develops.

MS: There is always a worry for the first corner. Not more and not less here, honestly. You just have to be up front, put in a good start and turn in first to the first corner, then you'll be out of trouble. That's what you have to do. We'll see whether we achieve it.

MS: Unfortunately the question hadn't been raised before, so I spoke about it in my own language. I said that we all feel very pleased about the welcome we have had here in the States. It is the first time we have been here for nine years and we have all been surprised by the reception we've had here, and by the number of spectators shouting for us and supporting us. It is great fun for us to be here and we hope to do a good show tomorrow.

MS: Yes, it's true. This is quite amazing. We saw it yesterday already: it was an unusually big crowd for Friday. I was wondering whether people would be satisfied with what they saw yesterday, I wanted to see whether they were bored or whether they would come back again today. But obviously we have convinced the guys to come back. We obviously put on a good show today, as David did in the last couple of seconds of qualifying when there was a good fight for pole position. It was a good day for all of us.

MS: Naturally, a little bit. Due to the rain this morning we weren't able to use all the session for dry running, so we were still experimenting a little bit during qualifying. So ... we were just trying a few bits and pieces. The race setup is pretty well prepared.

MS: Yes. But what does 'worry' mean? There IS the chance of having a wet weather race. We know what to do: we just have to hope that we won't find too many rivers running across the circuit to cause us trouble, because we don't yet know the place under full wet conditions. If that's going to be, let's hope we have the chance to experience that in warm-up. This morning was not really wet: you couldn't learn from that.

MS: Rubens and I did it too on our third run, and turned it around for him on the last run. We did it slightly differently, so that both of us could go for a lap time. It worked out ... at least for me.

MS: No more than elsewhere. It's a slowish corner, but that's usual. It is up to us to be disciplined enough to use just the space that is available.

DC: You do notice the difference. And because we went out with the intention of doing that, I think Mika short-shifted, so that he wouldn't be at optimum speed anyway, to give me that advantage. I won't know until I look at the data exactly how much time advantage that gave. It's a great thing, and I have to thank him for doing it, but then I had the rest of the 13 corners to do alone. I am still quite happy with my effort: it was not enough to beat Michael, but I still made a big gain on that last run.

DC: Well, pole is what you prefer. The dusty side is no advantage, but the start is all about reaction time and not getting too much wheelspin. If you look at where I will be starting from on the grid, the bricks are in front of my starting position, and that will be a disadvantage. From where I am, I hope to get the car moving - and it is quite a drag down to the first corner. I hope to be able to get the jump at the start.

DC: From the start, what I think will happen is that you'll just feel you've driven over a yard of bricks...(laughter)

DC: No, it wasn't at all damp at the end. It was spitting a little bit about ten minutes into the session. But otherwise it was dry ... and we all had a clear run at the end.

MH: Well, I was not concerned about that, to be honest. I was confident that way that if I helped David he would definitely improve his straightline speed, and I hoped it would also give him the momentum to improve his total lap time, which it did. I am not disappointed to have dropped one place. And as David explained about the starting grid situation, to be on the second row - on the cleaner side - is not a bad situation. Since this morning we have made good progress with the set-up for the race. I am very pleased.

MH: The first corner is always difficult because everyone wants to be first. That's a long, long straight before that first corner and we're going to get up to very high speed. Luckily there is a lot of run-off area there in case anyone realises he is going too fast. But it's still going to be difficult.

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