Mercedes confident of engine reliability in Japan

Mercedes are confident Mika Hakkinen will not suffer a repeat of the engine failure in Indianapolis that dealt a severe blow to his world title hopes. But they admitted they cannot guarantee it

Mercedes confident of engine reliability in Japan

Mercedes boss Norbert Haug said they had traced the problem to a batch of faulty parts that led to a blown engine as the Finn was zeroing in on Michael Schumacher at the head of the field.

"The problem was in the pneumatic valve. It started with a little problem and you saw what happened at the end - complete engine failure. Sorry for that Mika," said Haug shortly after arriving in Suzuka for the penultimate round of the world championship.

"I am confident it will not happen again, but you can never guarantee that 100 per cent. No one can.

"Every engine manufacturer has to build lots of parts and keep them at the same [high] level all the time. It is quite a big task and sometimes you fail.

"We have been quite reliable this season. We were not very good at the start, but after that we were OK and in testing we were OK, sometimes running two race distances a day with no problems, so we are quite pleased overall.

"And if we can repeat that reliability on the race track then we will be in a strong position."

Hakkinen had an incredible run of reliability, finishing 12 races on the trot in the points - and only twice out of the top two - before his dramatic engine failure in the States.

"It is the same for everyone and if it fails we did not do the right job so we have to criticise ourselves on that point," admitted Haug. "Lets hope we can keep it open to Malaysia and then we will see.

"Our friend Michael is in a strong position what I saw from his lap times in Mugello testing. He should be strong.

"Certainly it's not easy for Mika to beat Michael and it's not easy for Michael to beat Mika either. Everyone wants to keep it open to the end - except Michael - and that's what we are trying to do."

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