Argentine GP preview

BUENOS AIRES, April 9 (Reuters) - Mika Hakkinen bids to extend his unbroken winning streak to four on Sunday when he leads the McLaren assault on the Argentine Grand Prix. And the biggest threat seems less likely to come from...

BUENOS AIRES, April 9 (Reuters) - Mika Hakkinen bids to extend his unbroken winning streak to four on Sunday when he leads the McLaren assault on the Argentine Grand Prix. And the biggest threat seems less likely to come from Fer- rari or Williams but rather from McLaren teammate David Coulthard who fancies the tight track may suit him. The Scot has taken 10 days' holiday with his American model girlfriend Heidi Wichlinski in New York and will be keener than ever to prove he can win races for McLaren. "It is my aim to beat Mika and to be the world champion this year," he said. "And I feel that the Argentine circuit is one of those where I really have a very good chance of beating him." Finn Hakkinen, who had to wait until his 96th Formula One race to score his maiden victory, has won at Jerez, Melbourne and Sao Paulo in consecutive outings and starts Sunday's race as favourite to maintain his form. "It will be tough, I know that," he said, after his victory in Brazil last month. "But I feel confident now and I know what it takes to win a race. That helps me all the time and it makes me more determined the next race." Hakkinen leads the drivers' championship by eight points after winning the opening two races ahead of his teammate Coul- thard. He has 20 points to the Scot's 12. But he acknowledged: "It is very early in the season and much too early to talk about the championship." Hakkinen expects a tough test of his new-found dominance at the tight, twisty and bumpy Autrodrom Oscar Galvez, in the sub- urbs of Buenos Aires. A big crowd of Ferrari-loving Argentines are expected to try to will on the scarlet Italian cars, using their latest V10 engine for the second time, and their drivers Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. German Schumacher and Briton Irvine are big favourites of the Buenos Aires crowd and, after testing American tyre-suppliers Goodyear's new and wider-front tyres, hope to race them for the first time this weekend. "I hope it is a help for us, but we will not know if we are closing the gap on the McLarens until we get to the track and start trying," said Schumacher. Last year's race was won by world champion Jacques Ville- neuve for Williams but his slump in form this year has attracted the kind of attention he did not expect. "We will have the new Goodyear tyres to race with, but I don't expect they will make that much difference," he admitted. ``I think it will be just as tough for us as it was in Australia and Brazil. "The track is very modern with very tight corners and there are very few places to overtake. So, it is a bad track for racing - and it is also a very physical race because you have to work so hard in the cockpit. "But I will be trying my best and hoping for a change in luck."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams