Atlas F1 News Service

Surprised Hakkinen Happy with McLaren Pace

Saturday June 30th, 2001

Mika Hakkien during today's qualifyingMika Hakkinen admitted he was surprised to be so close to the top after qualifying for the French Grand Prix, where the Finn ended in fourth place right behind his McLaren teammate David Coulthard.

Hakkinen and Coulthard were clearly off the pace at last Sunday's European Grand, with the Scot finishing in distant third place and the Finn in a disappointing sixth. With only one week between the two races, Hakkinen claimed he was surprised by the small gap between the two tops teams Williams and Ferrari.

"We had expected there to be a bigger gap, but we got very close and that is good," Hakkinen told ITV after qualifying 0.279s behind pole setter Ralf Schumacher. "It means we have got a very good chance for the race tomorrow, especially with us both starting on the second row. I am looking forward to it."

Coulthard, who was able to outqualify his two-time World Champion teammate again, was pleased with his performance after setting the third fastest time of the day. The Scot, winner in France last year, was confident he could repeat the feat on Sunday.

"I'm reasonably happy with starting the race from the second row as I have won from this position before," said Coulthard. "Bridgestone has brought out a new tyre this weekend, which performs really well.

"We can definitely take encouragement because we could have performed even better. I'm looking forward to the race as generally we have been capable of more in the races than in qualifying."

Published at 13:56:30 GMT



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