Hakkinen off front for third Grand Prix in a row

World champion Mika Hakkinen was outgunned by team mate David Coulthard yet again as he qualified fourth for the French Grand Prix

Hakkinen off front for third Grand Prix in a row

The Finn, under increasing speculation that he is suffering from burn-out after winning back to back world titles, said the narrow margin that separated him from the leaders was down to a mystery car problem.

After qualifying on pole for the first three races of the season he has started fourth twice and fifth in the last three. It is also the fourth Grand Prix in a row he has been outperformed by Coulthard in qualifying.

"I am disappointed to be where I am because being off the front row is starting to become a little bit of a habit," said Hakkinen. "There is a small problem with the car somewhere and if we have to work all night to find it we will.

"I don't think it is anything to be alarmed about because anything can happen in the race and I will be doing my best to win the race and make up for the grid position."

He had been third on the grid until a final flying lap from Rubens Barrichello in the final minutes of the hour-long session demoted him a place.

Hakkinen is third in the title race, 24 points behind Michael Schumacher on pole, and two behind David Coulthard on the outside of the front row. But he steps into the second half of the season on Sunday in the ninth round having won just one race in eight - and that was two months ago in Spain.

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