Poleman Hakkinen surprises himself

Mika Hakkinen admitted he was 'shocked' to be on pole as he made the perfect start to his title defence in Melbourne.

Poleman Hakkinen surprises himself

As several other drivers spun or crashed he collared pole in Australia for the third year in a row.

But he had suffered a series of problems and said he was surprised to have done so well after his troubles multiplied as the weekend progressed.

His McLaren stopped on the circuit before he could complete a single lap in morning practice prior to qualifying. By the time an engine change had been carried out, he only had time for a brief handful of laps and could only manage the 18th fastest time.

'I am surprised to be on pole after this morning's troubles. It's actually a shock,' he admitted.

'It is always difficult to do the time when you have not had a lot of running in the car in the morning. I haven't felt tense. We were surprised to have the problems we did and to have to change the engine in my car and David's as well.

'But there was no tension in the team and they did an incredible job to change the engine so quickly. Both refits took around 45 minutes.

'There is a lot of talk about how good Ferrari and McLaren are, when we get into the race we will see what the truth is. We are feeling very strong. We have achieved a lot today.'

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