MAY 15, 2001
Hakkinen stays cool but could soon face team orders
MIKA HAKKINEN is refusing to let his continued race-by-race disappointments knock him down and despite being 38 points from the top of the championship table is trying to retain his cool persona.
He failed to get off the grid in Austria after his McLaren-Mercedes had broken down on the last lap of the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks earlier, but the Finn still remains calm and relaxed.
"I don't know how else to handle it," he said. "I just think this is the best way to do it. To be upset will not really help in this situation.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher now has almost four race victories in hand on Hakkinen, who has finished just two races in the points this year.
But perhaps more significantly the Finn's team-mate David Coulthard is looking like McLaren's best chance of the title and Hakkinen may soon become the subject of team orders.
McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey was very hesitant when asked if there is a need to perform Ferrari-style tactics with the Finn. "It's a difficult call," he said. "I wouldn't like to comment on that."
However as much as it may soon seem the right thing to do for McLaren, Newey still sees it as a little unethical and a little risky to play with drivers' emotions.
"You can argue that it's the right thing for the championship, but simply sacrificing one driver for the other, I think you can argue about the ethics of that.
"And also you do end up, if you're not very careful, with one driver just being completely de-motivated and thinking why should I bother."
McLaren are no strangers to team orders - Coulthard famously let Hakkinen past in the very first race of the season in 1998 - but Newey claimed he was happy with that situation and hinted that it could happen the other way around soon.
|Print News Story|