Tell a friend about this article
Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
McLaren Remain Calm

Monday May 22nd, 2000

McLaren put on a brave face at the weekend after Michael Schumacher took a fourth win in six races and tightened his grip on the Formula One championship.

World champion Mika Hakkinen, now 18 points behind his German rival, and McLaren team mate David Coulthard both said they still had time to prevent Schumacher securing Ferrari's first driver's title in 21 years.

"There is a long way to go and we have a good package and a good team, so I am not at all worried," said Hakkinen, who is chasing his third successive title. "I know we can make a comeback, but of course it will be tough."

The fact is that at this same stage last season, Hakkinen led with 34 points to Schumacher's 30.

The Finn, second to Schumacher in Sunday's rain-hit European Grand Prix, currently has 28 points to the German's 46.

More ominously for the McLaren men, the next race is in Monte Carlo - where double world champion Schumacher has triumphed four times in the last six years.

But there are still eleven races to come and Coulthard, who finished third in the rain at Sunday's European Grand Prix and is now 22 points behind Schumacher, also remained confident.

"It is going to go back and forth all season and we know it is going to be close," he explained.

"It has been close in all the races so far this year but Ferrari have had fantastic reliability and that is why they have a points advantage at the moment."

Problems To Come

"We have to believe they will have some problems later in the year and drop a few points," added Coulthard.

"There is a long way to go. Michael has not had any non-finishes at all yet but both Mika and I have - so he has still got his to come.

"We will certainly not be making it easy for him. There is every reason for us to go to Monaco and believe we can win there and that would change the picture completely."

Schumacher's challenge last season ended when he broke his leg in a crash at Silverstone.

But since he made his comeback at last year's Malaysian Grand Prix, the 31-year-old German has been off the podium just once in eight races.

On Sunday, he dominated a race which was run mostly in heavy rain after only 10 dry laps to romp home ahead of the two McLaren men with his Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello fourth.

"I have dreamed of going to Monaco in this kind of form and with this kind of lead in the championship," he said.

"This proves that sometimes your dreams can come true. I have always gone well in the past at Monaco so I hope it will be the same again."

McLaren chief Ron Dennis found more reasons to hope that it might turn out otherwise.

"It was down to the traffic and back-markers ignoring the blue flags through lack of concentration that we failed to take full advantage of this race," he said.

Asked if he blamed the other drivers for Hakkinen's failure to win, he said: "Yes, I do think that - but we can go on and prove it in the next few races.

"There is a long way to go yet and our recent results show two first-and-second finishes and two second-and-thirds which suggests a certain level of reliability now.

"We are just having to pay for a couple of poor returns at the start of the season now."

Previous  |  News Index  |  Next  ]

© 2001 Reuters Limited. Click for restrictions
Copyright & Terms