Hakkinen wants Monaco to set title ball rolling

Mika Hakkinen says he wants to get his championship rolling with a big helping of points in Monaco - preferably a full-house 10

Hakkinen wants Monaco to set title ball rolling

The Finn - who has been ruled out of the title chase by his rivals - proved he cannot be counted out just yet as he topped the times at the end of the first day's action.

And it was a double blow for McLaren-Mercedes team mate David Coulthard, who saw his car, like his hopes, take a bashing when he hit the barriers and wound up sixth.

Unlike points leader Schumacher, who can count on team orders, McLaren has said it will not be ordering Hakkinen to give way to Coulthard just yet.

While Coulthard will be counting the cost of the time lost from his accident, the Finn had a flawless day and was four-tenths quicker than second fastest driver Michael Schumacher.

He must be hoping it stays that way after a troubled season has seen him lead one race only for his clutch to explode on the last lap, crash out of second place in another and get caught out in the rain in Malaysia while in the hunt for victory.

Hakkinen has just four points to show for the first six races while Schumacher has 42 and Coulthard 38.

"My season is like a mosaic," he said. "All I've got is a few pieces in terms of points and they are pretty worthless at the moment. What I need is a lot more points to built up that mosaic.

"Here is a good place to start to get those. The circuit offers a really good challenge to me and everyone.

"I am racing for fun, want to get the maximum out of the race and then we will see where we are from there."

But as he prepared for the biggest race of the year he admitted he was concerned about the start after a series of high profile failures.

He stalled on the grid in Brazil and Austria and Coulthard had electronic gremlins in Barcelona.

"Naturally I am worried about launch control after what happened at the A1-Ring and earlier in the season," he said. "And there was David's problem too - they were such bad situations for us. Naturally I am concerned."

Hakkinen has set fastest lap here for the last three years, started from pole twice and won the race once.

"I am not surprised to be first," he said. "What impressed me is the way the mechanics work during the session to make the car quicker and improve the handling.

"We were quick today, very quick and I am hoping we can still improve. I am sure we can do that, it's going to be a really interesting race, a very close race and a very tough one. Times will be very close in qualifying too."

Hakkinen lives on the hill above the circuit near Prince Rainier's palace.

"This is like a home race for me. It's a walk - just five minutes from my home to the track. And I have a lot of friends here which gives me a lot of confidence too."

Hakkinen has used this race for the first public outing for his son, Hugo, born just before Christmas.

"It was his first working day and he enjoyed it," joked the Finn. "It's great to bring him here, the whole team have wanted to see him for so long and this was the first time we have been able to do it."

For free practice 2 results, click here.

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