The Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team returned from Magny-Cours greatly encouraged by the performance of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, who both finished in the top six for the third time in four Grand Prix. Such consistency and increased ...
The Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team returned from Magny-Cours greatly encouraged by the performance of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard, who both finished in the top six for the third time in four Grand Prix. Such consistency and increased competitiveness has enabled the team to close the gap on the Constructors' Championship runners-up to nine points with seven races to go.
The French Grand Prix Weekend went particularly well for Mika Hakkinen, who continued to show the kind of form he displayed at the Silverstone test session last week. He set the fastest time in the Friday practice on a fresh set of tyres, but had already clinched second place on used ones - a position which represented an even better result for the Finn and the team.
He confirmed his performance on Saturday by recording the second fastest time in the morning's free practice, before qualifying fifth in the afternoon, 0.6s behind pole position holder Michael Schumacher. He was third in the Sunday warm up, only three hundreds of a second behind Jacques Villenuve's Williams, and drove magnificently in the Grand Prix to finish fifth despite losing first and second gears less than halfway through the race.
David Coulthard, meanwhile, had to adapt to the new developments successfully tested the week before. After suffering frustrating practice sessions, which saw him spin off into the gravel trap twice in as many days and cause significant damage to his race car, he regained some confidence to qualify seventh, three tenths of a second behind Mika. After another spin in his race car during the warm-up, he chose to use the spare car in the Grand Prix, driving steadily to sixth place.
The Marlboro McLaren Mercedes team has returned to Silverstone to resume the testing programme with Mika and David, in preparation for the British Grand Prix on 14th July. Jan Magnussen was also due to drive, but the effects of a heavy crash in the ITC championship 10 days ago forced him to stop after only one run.