Mika surprised by McLaren's pace

Mika Hakkinen is confident McLaren can return to its winning ways after both Silver Arrows claimed the second row of the grid for the French Grand Prix

Mika surprised by McLaren's pace

The Finn was on course to book third place until team mate David Coulthard bumped him down a position in the last few minutes of qualifying. The McLaren pairing start behind Ralf Schumacher and brother Michael, after the Williams driver took his first ever Formula 1 pole with a lap of 1m12.989s, almost three tenths faster than Hakkinen.

Afterwards, Hakkinen admitted he was surprised his team was that close to the Schumacher brothers' pace.

"We had expected there to be a bigger gap, but we got very close and that is good," said the former double world champion. "It means we have got a very good chance for the race tomorrow, especially with us both starting on the second row. I am looking forward to it.

"Hopefully, we will get the tactics right and everything else will be fine too. We know the car is reliable at the moment, which is reassuring. But the funny thing is we have not made any radical changes and I can't really explain what happened today, but it is obviously a good thing."

However the McLaren duo's grid position will raise speculation about team orders coming into play. Hakkinen has had a miserable season collecting just nine championship points in all, while Coulthard has run away with the team's charge. The Scot is Michael Schumacher's nearest challenger with 44 points in the drivers' championship.

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