McLaren deny reports of Hakkinen return

Tue, 14 November 2006, 08:29

McLaren has played down suggestions that 1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen could line up alongside Fernando Alonso at the Woking based team in 2007.

The one-year deal would give Ron Dennis’ Mercedes powered outfit more time to bring protege Lewis Hamilton up to speed, the British broadsheet Guardian wrote, amid rumours that the 38-year-old Finn was spotted last week at the McLaren factory in the UK.

Hakkinen, who left the sport in 2001 but returned from retirement to compete in Germany’s DTM series, also last month attended the Brazilian grand prix as a guest of McLaren, despite enjoying a permanent world-champion paddock pass.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: “Mika has been in the simulator and following his visit to Brazil wished to understand if he could contribute to our programme.

“We currently have no plans to run Mika alongside Alonso next year. The identity of our second driver will be announced in due course.”

Whitmarsh said last week that the second seat would be occupied next year by either Hamilton or Pedro de la Rosa.

He told Speed TV: “I think we’ll announce something before January.”


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