FEBRUARY 27, 2001

Hakkinen hopes to feel less pressure in 2001

MIKA HAKKINEN is looking forward to competing in the 2001 championship and challenging for the title with less pressure than last year.

Hakkinen said he felt the pressure of being expected to claim a third successive title last season, and after being beaten by Michael Schumacher's Ferrari in 2000 he is keen to be the chaser, rather than the chased, in the forthcoming campaign.

"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."