Painful Weekend For Mclaren

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You win some and you lose some… but this is getting ridiculous.

Mika Hakkinen was already in the midst of one of the worst seasons in his professional career before his clutch gave out on the final lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix of Spain.

Now, with just four championship points and one Top 5 finish this season, rumors that the two-time world champion is close to retirement are escalating, and his frustrations are mounting.

Hakkinen was one lap away from winning his first race since last August’s Belgian Grand Prix when the clutch failed on his McLaren Mercedes and he crawled to a ninth place finish.

"I'm obviously very disappointed not only for me but also for the team,” Hakkinen said. “I couldn't believe it when it happened, as we were confident with the car. I think it was a clutch problem as I just lost drive no matter what gear I selected. I was going up the hill at the time so there was no way I was going to be able to get the car to the finish. It's difficult to describe how I feel and I don't think the outcome will sink in until later."

A whopping 32 points behind defending world champion Michael Schumacher in the points standings, Hakkinen insists the season is not over and says he can still challenge for the title.

“Of course I'm worried, it's absolutely natural, but I'm not losing my belief that I can still win it (the title),” Hakkinen said. “I just have to count the points all the time and when I don't have a mathematical possibility to win any more this year then we have to change to different targets for this year. Until that moment I have to push and fight as hard as I can.”

While Hakkinen coasted through the race only to finish poorly, his McLaren teammate David Coulthard stalled on the grid in the parade lap and was forced to start the race at the back of the field. Coulthard, who originally would have started the race third, battled back up the field to finish fifth.

"I initiated the start sequence on the new software before the formation lap and everything was normal until I wanted to accelerate away,” Coulthard said. “We are still looking into this as it's not meant to happen.

"As a result I had to start from the back of the grid and got involved in a first corner incident where I was hit from the rear which damaged the floor and pushed me into another car. I had to go into the pits for a new nosecone and could then start to catch up. The car was quick in race conditions and I managed to make up a lot of ground and combined with other people's misfortunes I managed to leave with two points."

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis called the Grand Prix of Spain “a painful weekend that saw us do most things right.”

“Based on an initial analysis we felt that David was responsible for stalling on the dummy grid but closer scrutiny confirmed that a glitch in the software was at fault,” Dennis said. “His recovery from this and a first corner incident gave him two well-deserved points.

"Mika drove a good race, which combined with our strategy, clearly gave him the opportunity to win. With half a lap to go and to the best of our current knowledge a hydraulic leak triggered a series of problems, which ultimately saw the clutch fail. In situations like this it's important to take some comfort from the facts, we had the right strategy and we were very competitive."

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Grand Prix of Brazil

@ Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sunday, November 24, 2013

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