McLaren prescribes rest for Hakkinen

McLaren has ordered its double world champion Mika Hakkinen to take a break and recharge his batteries, following the Finn's recent dip in form

McLaren prescribes rest for Hakkinen

Hakkinen has failed to qualify on the front row for the last three Grands Prix and trailed his team mate David Coulthard home by nearly 15 seconds in Sunday's French Grand Prix, having never looked a consistent threat to the Scot or Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

Hakkinen recently conceded that he may have over-relaxed after taking his second consecutive world title in 1999, but McLaren insiders say his lacklustre form is more likely a result of 'burn-out' - an opinion backed-up by team boss Ron Dennis's decision to temporarily relieve Hakkinen of testing duties.

"Mika's only suffering a bit of psychological tiredness," said Dennis. "It's no concern, it's just that sometimes you need a holiday. I've made a mistake of not backing off the drivers' test duties.

"Their work is too hard for this part of the season, so Mika's having quite a long break. David will have a holiday after the next race, to try to recuperate."

Adding to an intensive testing schedule between races, Hakkinen - who has now equalled Alain Prost's number of starts for the team - and Coulthard are also contracted to take part in more sponsor days than any other drivers in Formula 1.

But despite being signed-off for 'R&R', Hakkinen claims that his Magny-Cours form was down to the car: "It really doesn't anger me that David's been ahead," he said, "because I know it's not solely my problem. The car has not been suiting my driving style and we struggled with reliability earlier in the year, which made me uncomfortable."

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