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Formula One: Hakkinen Storms To Pole Position At Spa

26 August 2000

By David Treffer
The Auto Channel
If McLaren-Merceds driver David Coulthard imagined that teammate Mika Hakkinen was going to try and help him win his first world championship, he might want to re-think his strategy. During qualifying for tomorrow's Formula One race at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Hakkinen merely went out and blistered the field by three-quarters of a second. Posting a best lap of 1:50.646 seconds (140.882mph) early in the one-hour session, Hakkinen seemingly dared the rest of the field to try and match his time. Hakkinen's achievement at Spa gave him his 26th career pole position and third straight pole at Spa.

Surprisingly the response came from Jordan driver Jarno Trulli who posted the second best time of the day with a lap of 1:51.419 seconds (139.904mph). Early in the session Trulli actually had better trap speeds but true to form Hakkinen was not going to show his full hand until the time required. For Trulli and the Jordan team the second place qualifying effort came as welcomed news to what has been a season of unfulfilled goals.

The day was not finished with surprises. Williams driver Jenson Button qualified a career-best third on the grid with a time of 1:51.444 seconds (139.673mph). If Button is on his way out at Williams he is at the very least displaying that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. The word on his removal from the second seat at Williams is rumored to be made "official" at Monza in two weeks. In the meantime, Messer.Button is making the most of his opportunity.

The qualifying session had to be most disappointing to Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. The drivers qualified fourth and fifth respectively. Schumacher never appeared to find a clean lap. To add to the pressure the aerodynamic package that Ferrari is noted for is seemingly "lost in the woods" at the moment. Schumacher's best hope for tomorrow is the great equalizer-rain. If race day is dry, Schumacher's chances for victory will be dependent on DNF's in front of him.

Coulthard's race day will be equally challenged tomorrow. Going into the week-end, Coulthard spoke of taking the battle to his teammate for supremacy. Just what strategy that Coulthard will employ tomorrow is anyone's guess. Spa is a fuel-guzzling track. Start the race on full tanks and you could be left behind early in the race. Start on half-tanks and a two-stop strategy is required. Morning warm-up will be, to say the least, interesting!

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