Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
Haug Takes Heat off McLaren Drivers

Friday April 21st, 2000

Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug took responsibility on Thursday for McLaren's dismal start to the season, but defended the performance of reigning champion Mika Hakkinen.

"We have made some mistakes and we agree on that," Haug said after McLaren-Mercedes drivers Hakkinen and David Coulthard, who have managed just 10 points between them from the season's first three races.

"I have to say our drivers haven't made a single mistake so far," Haug said.

"Mika was the man in Imola speed-wise until we had problems...and without that a win would have been possible."

Mechanical failure put both McLarens out of the season's first two races and the team's pit-stop tactics were blamed for losing Hakkinen the Imola race, where Michael Schumacher racked up a third win from three starts so far this year.

Hakkinen, who has claimed pole position at the three events, defended his team's technical ability.

"The people running our team know what they are doing. They are very professional, so I can tell you our car is excellent," Hakkinen said.

And Haug, a burly, moustachioed German, sent a warning to those already writing-off McLaren's chances of stopping Schumacher and Ferrari.

"I tell you guys, we aren't going to give up even if we don't win this race," he said ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix. "We are strong enough to fight."

"There will be bad results in the future, hopefully not only for us, but I hope we will have some strong results as well," Haug said.

"We are a team and we fight like a team."

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