Hakkinen confident he can close gap

Mika Hakkinen says he is confident of clawing back the gap to Michael Schumacher in Saturday's qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix after the championship leader was fastest by more than half a second in the first practice sessions at Suzuka

Hakkinen confident he can close gap

The Ferrari ace set a blistering time of 1m37.728s in the second hour-long session this morning (Friday), just 0.258s shy of the 1999 pole time. Hakkinen could only manage second place.

"I am struggling a little bit in the last sector but we are heading in the
right direction," said the Finn. "The kerbs at the last chicane have been modified and I'm still trying to find the right line and optimum acceleration to get that section absolutely perfect.

"We are heading in the right direction and I am feeling very positive. Six-tenths is a lot but Friday doesn't count. We will know after qualifying if Michael has the edge. There are a few places we can go quicker."

Schumacher has started from the front at Suzuka for the last two years, but it has been Hakkinen who has won the race on both occasions.

"History proves this circuit suits me and the McLaren team. Winning two years in a row shows we are strong here. For the last couple of years, pole here has not been important but it is one car's length in front of the rest so its the ideal place to be and where I want to be."

For the times from the end of Friday's free practice for the Japanese GP, click HERE.

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