Bartels unhappy with McLaren driver choice

Onetime aspiring F1 driver Michael Bartels blasted McLaren's choice of Heikki Kovalainen in an interview with the press agency SID. "I don't understand why a German car maker does not give German drivers a chance," complained Bartels, who failed...

Onetime aspiring F1 driver Michael Bartels blasted McLaren's choice of Heikki Kovalainen in an interview with the press agency SID.

"I don't understand why a German car maker does not give German drivers a chance," complained Bartels, who failed to qualify in four attempts in 1991, being clearly outpaced by his teammate -- and future McLaren driver -- Mika Hakkinen.

Bartels, who has spent the past few years driving in the FIA GT championship, felt that Mercedes should have used the clout of its 40% ownership in McLaren to force the team to choose a German driver, rather than allowing team principal Ron Dennis to make the choice.

Bartels claimed, contrary to information from most other sources, that Williams could have been convinced to release rising star Nico Rosberg. He also suggested that young talent Adrian Sutil could have been a fit -- and then demonstrated that his opinions of driver talent do not match those of the F1 team principals.

"Ralf (Schumacher) is fast and has great experience," said Bartels.

Toyota, however, chose not to renew Schumacher's contract, and the German has not been able to close in on a race seat with even one of the smaller teams (see separate story).

Meanwhile, Ron Dennis appears to be satisfied with the talent coming from Finland, having previously engaged all three Finnish Formula One champions: Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen -- though admittedly only Hakkinen won his championships with the team.

Of course, the year is only a few days young, and the team has yet to turn a wheel in anger for the new season, but Dennis' track record in choosing young drivers -- such as Hakkinen, Raikkonen and 2007 World Championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton -- certainly gives the longtime team principal a lot of credibility.

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Series FORMULA 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen , Michael Bartels , Lewis Hamilton , Keke Rosberg , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Adrian Sutil , Ron Dennis
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams