Hakkinen calls qualifying a disaster

Mika Hakkinen has slated his McLaren team's qualifying performance for the Austrian Grand Prix as "a disaster"

Hakkinen calls qualifying a disaster

The Finn, who won this race last year and has started from pole for the last two seasons, will start Sunday's race from eighth on the grid, one place behind team mate David Coulthard.

It was Hakkinen's worse qualifying performance since the French Grand Prix in 1999 and the Finn trailed pole-sitter Michael Schumacher by 0.780 seconds.

"It is a big disaster," said Hakkinen. "We are seven or eight tenths of a second away from pole, which is quite a big gap. We have to really improve for Sunday because in this race anything can happen."

Hakkinen blamed both oversteer and chassis imbalance for his disastrous performance.

"The car more or less felt the same, but we have definitely lost performance since the morning session," he continued. "We have to understand what really happened. For the last run I had a problem with the engine. There was a problem with the balance of the car. I couldn't improve much in the session.

Hakkinen has scored just four points so far this season, but despite his poor qualifying performance, he remains upbeat about his chances for the race.

"In the race anything can happen," said the double world champion. "It is going to be an exciting race, particularly as I have a young Finnish lad [Kimi Raikkonen] behind me. I better keep him behind! It is going to be very difficult but I have been there before so I know how to handle being low on the grid and battling back."

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