Qualifying Press Conference

Pole position press conference

Qualifying Press Conference

March 25, 2000
1. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:14.111s;
2. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:14.285s;
3. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1:14.508s

Q. The first thing I have to ask you involves the publicity signs which collapsed on to the track into the braking area before Turn 1. Jean Alesi very nearly suffered what could have been a serious accident: what is your reaction to what happened there?
Mika Hakkinen: I think it's a pretty big disaster. But in one sense I am sure the organisers here have been trying to do their best in different ways. They have made a lot of improvements to this track, and things like [collapsing publicity signs] should not happen. Now they have to analyse exactly what happened and went wrong, whose fault it was and so on. It was very unfortunate for Alesi and he is lucky not to have been hurt. I never heard of anything like this happening before. It is a first in my career.

David Coulthard: My reaction is the same as Mika's. No one did it deliberately and I am sure it is something that will be sorted out in time for tomorrow. The people in charge of circuit inspection will have to check on everything now. But I'm sure they've never had to take thin about anything like this before. Surely it shouldn't be too difficult to make sure that a publicity sign doesn't fall down ...

Michael Schumacher: The only thing that surprises me is that we have been running our cars here for a day and a half and nothing happened [with those signs] until after qualifying had started. I don't understand that.

Q. Were you angry about losing a chance to be on pole position?
MS: If I win the race tomorrow, I shan't feel angry. If I lose the race because I wasn't on pole, maybe I will be upset. But it is the same for everyone ...

Q. Were you even more angry that your life, and the lives of your colleagues, were put in danger by the collapsing publicity signs?
MS: Yes, certainly. But as David said, nobody did it on purpose. There have been publicity signs there every year, I guess, and certain things do happen sometimes. I guess every other circuit will learn something from this.

Q. Apart from the interruptions, Mika, were you happy with the way qualifying went?
MH: I have to be happy, because I am on pole. I think I could have been quicker, and David and Michael will probably say the same. It was a very difficult qualifying session because of the boards and very complicated, too. Obviously there was pressure from David, who was running at very close lap times to mine. On any circuit with new asphalt, you tend to improve each time you go out.

Q. Just as they were this afternoon, tomorrow's conditions could change from dry to wet. How do you feel about that?
MH: I feel very confident for the race. The car balance is almost never exactly what I want to have, but the car is performing very consistently and we are very fast. I am looking forward to tomorrow. Unless something technical goes wrong, I don't see any problems ahead of us.

Q. Frustrated, David?
DC: Well, it's been a long time since those final dry runs, so any frustration has disappeared now. To be honest, I have been very positive about this race all weekend. Right from the first lap, my car has felt better balanced than I can remember any car before at this track. I have been consistently quick and if it is dry tomorrow I feel I can be strong every single lap of the race. I don't know where will be if it is a wet-dry race, though.

Q. After being fastest throughout much of today's qualifying, don't you think you could have been on pole today?
DC: I do. But I wasn't. At the end of the day it was Mika who did the [pole] time. I got close. But not good enough.

Q. Like several other drivers, you went out on the track after the final break in qualifying, when the surface was wet. Did you learn anything?
DC: Yes. The fact that so many drivers went out showed that people were curious to find out what this track was like in damp conditions. Everyone will have picked up some information about what it could be like tomorrow if it rains again. I was taking it steady, to avoid being caught out on the new surface. But there was a lot of grip out there and I think I could have gone considerably quicker than I did.

Q. Michael, you lost time this morning after running off the track. Was that a frustration?
MS: It's not nice. We had a problem, so we couldn't [sort out] my car's setup, which wasn't idea for qualifying. Nevertheless, I was able to use some good information from Rubens which he had developed through the day. After my off, I had to jump into the T-car. It was a shame that I couldn't complete a lap on which I was going fairly quickly, but I thought that with some minor adjustments I would have been able to improve even more. I would prefer to be on pole than in third place, but that is the way it is.

Q. We saw your car run off into the dirt. What happened there?
MS: I just ran wide. The kerbs at the exit of that corner have very high [ridges], and they are something that will have to be improved for next year. They were so high that they instantly broke my car's chassis. It was not a very nice experience and the high kerbs are there for nothing.

Q. How confident are you about the race?
MS: I am confident. Let's see tomorrow.

Q. We understand that the Sauber team was forced to withdraw both cars because of damage generated by the severity of the bumps on the pits straight. I would like to ask the Ferrari and McLaren drivers if they also had any incidents or damage caused by those same bumps.
MS: Although my car was broken due to the kerbs, it can probably be repaired in time for tomorrow. As far as the bumps on the straight are concerned, they are very severe. I don't think they are a threat to the strength of our car, but for some teams including Sauber they caused the breakage of wings and other parts. It is a shame after the good job that was done here in resurfacing Interlagos, and doing such a good job in most difficult circumstances.

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