Hakkinen: Car hasn't changed a lot
30 November 2006 – On Thursday Mika Hakkinen returned at McLaren for a test session in the McLaren MP4-21. He completed a total of 79 laps and after the test the Finn admitted he would love to test again.
Looking back at his day of testing he told F1Racing.net: "It was an excellent day, very exciting. I drove 79 laps, and that's a lot at Barcelona. The track is quite demanding, lots of corners were the g-load is quite high. I'm very happy to have driven so many laps without any problems."
In the morning Hakkinen completed a number of installation runs but wasn't able to run the scheduled programme. "This morning we weren't able to start the programme in a normal way as we had some problems that we found this morning. So we had to work all morning until lunchtime to find the right set-up and I have to admit, we did a great job. It was really enjoyable work," explained Hakkinen.
Some would have expected Hakkinen to be right at the pace. But Hakkinen urges to keep the expectations low. "The purpose for today was not to impress anybody, we just had to find a good feeling and understand Formula 1 and find out if it has changed a lot since 2001. Surprisingly, the change was very little.
"There is a lot more electronics in the car, nowadays. That can be a good or a bad thing, because it helps you in the corners, but it can also be very confusing. So you really have to stay calm and a focused mind, because it can influence your lap time easily by more than a second and the driver doesn't even notice it.
"The V10 had more explosive power and very impressive torque, now it seems like you have less. Technology has gone forward, so the drivability is very smooth and that feels fantastic. I think Mercedes has done very good work. We didn't have any problems."
For Hakkinen it was an interesting day at Circuit de Catalunya. McLaren has said it was a one-time test for Hakkinen for now, but the Finn wouldn't mind to try the car again obviously. "I would love to drive the car at another test," he said. "It's getting better and better all the time and I understand the braking points, the acceleration points and the set-up of the car. Today I only used one set of tyres, so it was very difficult.
"In a next test I would be stronger and quicker and I would have more knowledge about the car. But we will have to discuss that and see what happens. I really have to see how the team liked this and then we will have to see what we can do."