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F1-Versl@g Persconferenties GRAND PRIX Oostenrijk 26 juli

 

Persconferenties uitgegeven door de FIA tijdens GP Oostenrijk
Donderdag 23 juli gp Oostenrijk 4 coureurs A. Wurz D. Coulthard, R. Schumacher en M. Schumacher

Alexander Wurz (Benetton - Playlife AW)

Q. Alexander, this is the first time for you to be racing in your home Grand Prix. What do you think of it so far?

AW: So far it has been nothing but interviews and press conferences. Now the weekend starts, with the driving which starts tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the spectators, but it is already exciting for me to be racing at home. I can already feel the emotions, and things are going right. But it is going to be busy.

Q. As a local, what sort of weather forecast can you offer us?

AW: It is very hot, which means there is always the possibility of thunder storms. I remember last year, the organiser of the race and the local people had a very scientific system of forecasts, using satellites. This year, instead of that, we asked the farmers, who are supposed to have a much better clue about what the weather will do. [And they said] that today and tomorrow there would maybe be thunderstorms in the late afternoon. For the weekend it won't be as hot as it has been today, but it's going to be nice weather.

David Coulthard (McLaren - Mercedes DC)

Q. David, you said at Silverstone that the Saturday had been one of the worst days of your life. Have things improved since then?

DC: I obviously wanted much more than I got that weekend, but after every GP we go testing -- which leaves you with very little time in which to dwell on these problems. At Monza last week I went straight out and all the testing we did there seemed to go reasonably well.

Q. But there were reports that you are still having problems with reliability ...

DC: In testing it is sometimes amazing how many little problems can come up. Going back even to the time when I was with Williams, it seems amazing [after those problems] that we managed to finish GPs. But that is what testing is for: it is to develop the car over short runs, which makes things different from a race weekend.

Q. How upset were you during the Silverstone race by the choice of intermediate tyres at your first pit stop?

DC: Well, you know, I am part of the decision. I was angry at the time, too, because I had made a mistake and gone off. To collect points, first you have to get past the chequered flag, so I was really frustrated. But having looked at the race again, with the team, [I have seen] that it was just the way the weather changed [which prompted the tyre choice]. It is possible that it would have been a different story if I had pitted a couple of laps later.

Ralf Schumacher (Jordan - Mugen-Honda RS)

Q. Ralf, you must have been pleased to have come home with Jordan's first championship point at Silverstone?

RS: Obviously we were delighted to have our first point, especially from starting in 21st place on the grid. It was a very difficult race, too, but the car worked quite well. Nobody expected so much rain to fall before the end -- or at least we didn't -- and we had to make an extra stop for full-wet tyres. Then the Safety Car was sent out, which I really appreciated because you couldn't see anything at all [in the spray].

Q. You had obviously improved your starts, too! Do you expect to be making better starts now?

RS: At the beginning of the season our problems were in the clutch. But we have had a new [type of] clutch since Magny-Cours and suddenly I seem to be making good starts again. Obviously we have sorted out the problem.

Q. You're the subject of rumours about a possible move to Sauber. What are your feelings at this stage?

RS: Well, nothing has been decided yet. We are still talking to a few teams. As soon as I know, I will let you know.

MichaŽl Schumacher (Scuderia Ferrari MS)

Q. Michael, you must be pleased to have reached your own agreement with Ferrari for the next four years. Is it a contract for life?

MS: I hope my life goes on for longer than that, to be honest! It is a long time, yes, but that is associated with the possibility of doing other things afterwards.

Q. You will be the longest-serving driver in the history of Ferrari, and also the wealthiest. How do you feel about that?

MS: No different from now, to be honest. I have no particular feelings about that because the important thing is the way the team works behind you and the way you approach your objective. Obviously it is nice to be paid at the rate you wanted to see, but after a while it is no longer the first priority.

Q. There were suggestions that you had better offers. What can you tell us about that?

MS: There were basically three solutions on offer. I chose the right one. It is true that the figures were all simple, but I chose the one. Maybe one of them was a little higher but what it amounted to was that although one of them was maybe a little bit higher [than the others], it all came down to the prospects of what you can expect to achieve. Secondly, I haven't yet met my objective of becoming world champion with Ferrari. That is the most important factor.

Q. Loyalty is obviously important to you, too ...

MS: I do have tremendous loyalty to Ferrari. It is something that has been built up over time -- and it is now almost three years -- so we have a great understanding between us, a lot of trust and respect. It has worked superbly so far, and if you believe that you should never change a winning team, and bearing in mind that we are winning now, let's not change anything.


Vrijdag 24 juli gp Oostenrijk 2 teamleden en 3 coureurs G. Brunner en P. Sauber. M. Hakkinen, M. Salo en
J. Villeneuve

Gustav Brunner (Minardi - Ford GB)

Q. Gustav, your boss Mr Rumi wants to push Minardi forward, but first you have to get a competitive engine. What are your feelings about this year's engine, and what are you doing to improve the situation?

GB: Yes, we are trying, but it is difficult to get anything better. Unfortunately we still have the handicap of not having a top engine, but the engine market is too small and we may end up with the same supplier.

Q. No chance of Ferrari helping Minardi again?

GB: No, unfortunately not. There was a glimpse of hope of getting a Ferrari engine, but after some hesitations Mr Peter Sauber signed again with Ferrari -- and that was our hope gone. I don't blame him, in fact I can't understand why he even hesitated, because [the Ferrari] is the best engine.

Peter Sauber (Sauber Petronas PS)

Q. Herr Sauber, you have renewed the engine contract with Ferrari, but only for one year. Why only one year?
PS: It's not a one year contract, in fact we have renewed a two-year contract. So in total it is a three year contract.

Q. What are the plans of your own team to develop an engine?

PS: The agreement with Ferrari for the transfer of know-how comes to an end this year, and next year we will have the 1998 [type 047] Ferrari V10, which we will use in its present state of tune.

Q. Where does that leave your engine specialist Mr Goto?

PS: We have other engine projects which are not linked to motorsport. Mr Osamu Goto is looking after these projects too. The engine we will use in F1 next year will be known as the Sauber-Petronas V10.

Mika Hakkinen (McLaren - Mercedes MH)

Q. Mika Hakkinen, now that Michael Schumacher has closed to within two points of your total in the championship, are you worried about the effect that your team mate David Coulthard might have on your ability to take maximum points?

MH: Yes, naturally. Your team mate is always a threat, because he has equipment that is equal to your own. You just have to make sure you keep him behind. That doesn't mean that your team mate is automatically your enemy, in fact you must try to make him an ally -- both at races and test sessions -- because that is one way to improve your own performance. So, yes, he is a threat, but it is a way to keep the team strong -- and it keeps me on my toes.

Q. Ferrari has won the last three races. Are you happy with the pace of development at McLaren and Mercedes?

MH: Yes. We have done a lot of testing since the last race, we were at Monza for four days. Not too much of it was aimed at this Grand Prix, although there were a few things. I am extremely happy about the development, both in the McLaren factory and at Mercedes. I am sure we will see how far we have made progress, both in Sunday's race and later in the season. It will take us further and further, in the right direction, and the car will get quicker.

Mika Salo (Arrows MS)

Q. Mika Salo, how do you feel about today's performance after being classified 18th?

MS: It's been the same on Fridays at the last couple of races because we have so few of the next-spec engines available. We will get the better engines tomorrow, and only then will we know how much of an improvement they are. We didn't see the difference at Silverstone, which is a high speed track, and most of the changes had gone into improving driveability and power out of the corners. Power on the straights was not the priority.

Q. Do you expect the latest Arrows engine to offer a big step forward here?

MS: I have a good feeling about it. It felt very good when we tested it, and it should be good here. But it is very difficult to make a comparison based on Friday times.

Jaques Villeneuve (Williams - Mecachrome JV)

Q. Jacques, it has been announced that you will join BAR-Reynard in 1999. A lot of people have suggested this is a huge gamble. What are your own feelings?

JV: Anything new can be a gamble. You just have to quantify the good sides about it, and there a lot of positives [at BAR]. The people in the team are people I worked with in the past. I know that they can do a very good job, and they showed me a lot of things that made me confident in what they could achieve in the future.

Q. To what extent was it that you wanted to leave Williams or that you wanted to join BAR?

JV: I was happy at Williams. This is my third year [there] and I'm working pretty well with the team. I'm well integrated, although the results didn't come this year as we wanted. But at least the team is working very hard to go forward and get the good results again, and even now we are better off than we were at the beginning of the season. I expect next year to be an interim season, and I just don't want to do another season like this one.

Q. Do you have any influence at BAR over whom your teammate would be? Do you want to be sole number 1 rather like Michael Schumacher is at Ferrari?

JV: No, no I'm not fighting to be in the same situation as Michael and Eddie are. I don't think it's right for a team, and you [only] do that if you are afraid that someone else is going to beat you. I'm not afraid of that. I can compete. If someone goes quicker, then you just raise your game. It just makes it more interesting. So, no, I didn't even ask for that.


Zaterdag 25 juli gp Oostenrijk Kwalificatie: 1. G. Fisichella (Benetton-Playlife), 1:29.598s; 2. J. Alesi (Sauber-Petronas), 1:30.317s; 3. M. Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1:30.517s

Giancarlo Fisichella (GF)

Q. Giancarlo, many congratulations on snatching the first pole position of your career in the closing seconds of this wet qualifying session. What does it mean to you?

GF: I can hardly believe this. Before qualifying started I was a little worried about the wet conditions. In the dry conditions I was already quite pleased with my car and my target was to be starting the race from [somewhere on] the first three rows. But here I am on pole! I enjoy driving in the wet and I am hoping that tomorrow we will have the same conditions for the race. Why not? It will still be a difficult race tomorrow, and now I want to get on the podium or at least pick up some points.

Q. Nobody went out at all until halfway through the session. Did you start qualifying on intermediate tyres?

GF: No, it was too wet for us at the beginning to use the full-wet Bridgestone tyres. I also spun twice, but I was lucky [not to do too much damage]. Then I went into the pits for a second set of the same tyres, and in the last few laps the circuit conditions were much better.

Q. Whose decision was it to stay out until the last minute?

GF: I was third after three or four laps, and my engineer, after my spin, called me to say 'Giancarlo, do you want to change tyres or do you want to stay until the end?' I asked him if there was time, and he told me yes, and I said I'll come in and we will change tyres.

Jean Alesi (JA)

Q. Jean, this is the best ever qualifying position for a Sauber ...

JA: I don't know about that, but after the collision [between me and Johnny during the race] at Silverstone this is fantastic for the team. We were thinking about taking at least another three points, but now -- from this position on the grid -- I am really excited about tomorrow's Grand Prix.

Q. In the dry, you have looked strong all through the weekend. Did you feel even more confident when you saw the rain falling before the session?

JA: No, because the car felt quite good in dry conditions, and the rain always means you have to gamble. But when it came to having to go and do it [in the rain], under 100 per cent pressure, everything went very well for me.

Q. Is there a crucial difference between the wet tyres from Bridgestone and Goodyear?

JA: It is difficult to say, in fact without a back-to-back test it is impossible [to know] which is better. At the moment I can say that the Goodyear tyre works extremely well, and obviously we are pleased about that. Seeing the conditions of our tyres after this morning's session, I am quite confident [about my chances in a dry race].

Q. Because your car has been good both in wet and dry conditions, which would you prefer for the race?

JA: I have more chance if it is wet. But I don't think it would be very nice for the public, although it could be very exciting [for themm] if it is a wet race.

Mika Hakkinen (MH)

Q. Mika, with both Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard behind you on the grid, you must surely be pleased with this third place today?

MH: To be honest, I am not happy. I would prefer to be first, and that was my target at the beginning of the qualifying session. But conditions were actually more difficult than I had expected, and going round the first and second corners it was very slippery indeed. It was difficult to find confidence under braking because it was so easy to lose the rear end going into corners, because of the rubber there. I am quite disappointed with today's result ...

Q. Tomorrow, do you think you will be able to find a way past the two guys in front of you?

MH: In today's Formula 1 overtaking is never easy -- and I don't believe it ever has been easy. In front of me there is one very experienced driver -- Jean Alesi -- who is a tough racer. Between us, it all depends on the speed of our cars, and on what happens during the race. Then there's this guy Fisichella here, on pole position. He hasn't been in F1 for very long and I think that it's going to be good for him to be starting from the front. He's going to find that it's the best place to be! I don't see any difficulties in overtaking him, though, because he is a very fair driver.


Zondag 26 juli race gp Oostenrijk 1. M. Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes), 1hr 30m 44.086s (202.777 km/h); 2. D. Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes), 5.3 seconds achter; 3. M. Schumacher (Ferrari), 39.1 seconds achter

Mika Hakkinen (MH)

Q. Congratulations, Mika, on your impeccable race and a return to the top of the podium which you've been waiting for since Monaco. How did you manage to make it look so convincing?

MH: The team played a very important part in this race, especially with the tactics which we had worked out together. The strategy we chose was to make just one fuel stop, and that was definitely ideal for me. I was able to charge and go flat out all the time: no problems for me today.

Q. You made a fantastic start. Was that expected?

MH: The start is always a bit of a gamble and at the end of the day you can never know how it is going to work out. This time I had Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella ahead of me, and because I had no idea how well they would start, I just did the best I could possibly do -- and it definitely worked. I simply kept my foot down, I got good traction from the Bridgestones and I overtook them both before the first corner.

Q. That was a great battle which you and Michael had for the first 14 laps. Were you confident about being able to hold him off?

MH: Yes, although I had some problems with the brakes which meant I wasn't able to go as hard into the corners as I would have liked to go at the beginning of the race. At that time Michael was almost catching me, but then I managed to get the brakes balanced, and a more consistent balance in the tyres. So then I was able to charge, and the gap started to open out until Michael ran wide. After that the gap was definitely big.

David Coulthard (DC)

Q. David, your last podium appearance was five races ago, in Spain. It doesn't require much imagination to know how you feel at this moment ...

DC: It's even longer since Mika was last on the podium! It's great to be back, especially given that I had such a bad qualifying position yesterday. None of us would have expected me to be so far back on the grid, but in conditions [like yesterday's] you have to be on the ball -- and I wasn't -- so I started a long way back. After the start and the second corner accident [which damaged my car] I was very lucky that there was a Safety Car period, which allowed me to go into the pits to change the front wing and [get back into the race] at the back of the pack. When you have a car that is as good as my car is, it makes it quite easy to overtake. I want to compliment all the drivers that I overtook today, because they were 100 per cent fair and absolutely committed in selecting the lines they wanted -- and sticking to them. This was a good, clean motor race.

Q. There was one moment, with about 25 laps to go, when you suddenly lost four or five seconds. You had already got through all the traffic, and Eddie Irvine was catching you again. What happened there?

DC: After I had made my refuelling stop and taken the second set tyres, the car wasn't working quite as well as it did before. But I knew that Eddie was making two stops to my one, so I was playing around with lap times to try to find the most consistent pace at which to run. It was when I tried to push a little bit again that I ran wide at Turn 6 and got on to the marbles. I preferred to let the car run wide on to the grass rather than take any gamble by trying to pull it back. That may have cost me a little time, but it was the safest option in guaranteeing that I kept second place.

MichaŽl Schumacher (MS)

Q. Michael, third place must be quite a good result today -- considering that you were virtually out of the race at one point.

MS: Yes, the way our car resisted that 'off,' it must be as tough as a truck, because I was quite high in the air. I certainly thought it was greater damage [than it was]. There was enough damage anyway to have to do one lap without the front wing on my way in, which cost me a lot of time. It was a stupid mistake by myself. I went off the line, and off the line there is so much dust that you have no chance, you just run wide. After that I had a great pitstop from the guys, they changed a wing, I went back into the race 16th and now I have finished third. It was quite a nice challenge, especially when my second pitstop finished because then I was back behind various cars which I had only just overtaken. I had to re-overtake them again. In that sense it was quite exciting.

Q. You seemed to catch up pretty quickly after changing your nose cone, but one person who caused you a certain amount of trouble was your brother Ralf ...

MS: Yes, he was obviously fast, and he is there to race, not to give me any presents. He works for a different team, and he fought all the way to the end. He did it in a fair way. After the driver's briefing there was an arrangement [between all the drivers] that we would change line only once [when being overtaken]. Ralf did it perfectly, he only moved over once. I had the outside free, which wasn't the nice line. But at the next corner I had more acceleration and caught him on the next straight. It was perfect.

Q. You caught and passed Eddie Irvine quite quickly at the end. Was that a team strategy?

MS: No, we had a brake problem. We were very marginal on brakes, both of us. Eddie seemed to be a bit worse than me, and the team asked us to slow down. At one stage I was able to overtake Eddie then.

Q. Mika, you go to Hockenheim 8 points ahead of Michael. What will your tactics be there?

MH: The race continues, basically. I'm sure there are going to be some more exciting races [between] now and the end of the season. I'm extremely positive about it. The team is working extremely hard. They have already made great progress with the car, including the engine, and the tyre development goes on all the time with Bridgestone. So I'm looking forward to going to Hockenheim.


 

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