Tuesday February 27th, 2001
Mika Hakkinen is ready to relish the 2001 championship battle - because there is no pressure on him to succeed.
Hakkinen admitted he felt the pressure last year as he attempted to enter the record books with a third successive title, but after losing out to Michael Schumacher he is planning to relish life as the chaser this time around.
"I was glad that the strain of being expected by some people to win a third successive championship was over," said Hakkinen.
"I am glad that is behind me. Last season was quite difficult and there was a lot of strain sometimes for me. But it was a great year with lots of good racing.
"Last year's result has increased my desire to win, which is now stronger than ever. I intend to do my best to win back the drivers' title and to help the team win the constructors' championship."
McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has dismissed media speculation that the new MP4-16 car is suffering reliability problems after a few faults in winter testing and said the team is ready for a double championship assault.
Dennis said: "This is an important season for everyone involved with the team and we are determined to succeed.
"I believe that you must learn from the past and use that knowledge productively to improve your own performance. We feel that we have accomplished that during the off-season."