Monza, Friday 14th September 2001, 09.30 CET: The West McLaren Mercedes team is delighted to announce that its driver line-up for 2002 will be David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz. After 11 years in Formula One and two ...
Monza, Friday 14th September 2001, 09.30 CET: The West McLaren Mercedes team is delighted to announce that its driver line-up for 2002 will be David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz.
After 11 years in Formula One and two Formula One World Championships Mika Hakkinen will take a break following the end of the current season to allow him to dedicate more time to family life.
David Coulthard will commence his seventh season with the intention of improving upon his current second place position in the Formula One World Championship.
The team is particularly pleased to announce that it has been able to secure the services of the highly talented 21-year-old Finn, Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi will be at the wheel of a West McLaren Mercedes for the first time at the start of testing in early January 2002.
David and Kimi will be supported by Alexander Wurz, who will continue as the West McLaren Mercedes team's third driver.
"Formula One has been virtually my whole life since I started karting in 1974. The intensity of my career has become increasingly difficult for those around me. Whilst this year has been difficult for me and the team, these experiences have not guided the decision to take this break. I asked the team for a break which would be a good way to recharge my batteries and enjoy more time with my wife Erja and my son Hugo. I'm pleased to welcome a fellow Finn to the team and I wish Kimi all the best. However let's not forget that there are three races left for me this year, and I have every intention of going flat out. Of course it might have been easier to retire, but that just isn't a decision I feel ready to take. I know that I will have to work hard to return after my break but I know that I want to return with West McLaren Mercedes."
"My contract with the team was agreed a few months ago and I'm looking forward to next year's Championship challenge. Mika and myself have been teammates for six years - the longest ever in Formula One and we have worked well and competed hard and I understand his reasons for having a break. Thanks to Mika, I have gained valuable insight into fast Finns, which I'm sure will be useful next year.'
"I'm pleased to have achieved several point scoring finishes with the Sauber team after they gave me the chance to show what I could do in Formula One. I really want to thank Peter for helping me to take the opportunity to drive for West McLaren Mercedes next year. However until then, I will do everything I can to help the Sauber team retaining their fourth place in the Formula One Constructors' World Championship."
"Obviously I'm disappointed not to have achieved one of the two principal seats in the team. I understand, however, that I came very close to achieving my goal of racing for West McLaren Mercedes and I'm pleased that the team has recognised my contribution through this year and re-affirmed their commitment to me for the coming season. It has been made clear that the team will support my career and whilst I will continue to gain valuable experience in such a good organisation, they will ensure that I will be ready if a competitive opportunity arises."
RON DENNIS: "Mika has been a part of the team for nine years and after 159 races, 26 pole positions and 19 race wins, he decided that he wanted a break. Mika has always done an incredible job for us and now is not the time to be bidding him farewell. Whilst we have had a range of interesting options for 2002 we are very pleased to announce our driver line-up with David, Kimi and Alex. Kimi's outstanding performances in what is only his first year in Formula One have obviously resulted in a lot of attention although from the initial discussions we made it clear that we would only be interested if a solution could be reached with Red Bull Sauber Petronas. We were extremely pleased therefore that partly as a result of Peter Sauber's good relationship with Professor Hubbert of Mercedes-Benz, we have been able to reach a professional conclusion. We are also pleased to continue our relationship with David, who has shown that he can win races and is obviously a strong Championship contender. Alex's loyalty is appreciated by everybody in the team and can ultimately only help in furthering his career."
NORBERT HAUG: "Today is a day with mixed emotions. Mercedes-Benz has a great relationship with Mika and he is a valued member of the family and not only because he has won two World Championships with West McLaren Mercedes. We have a lot of memories together and we want to thank Mika for all he has done for Mercedes-Benz and West McLaren Mercedes. We would like to welcome Kimi to the team who in his first Formula One season impressed all of us very much and we are looking forward to working with him. David, having done a great job for the team for years, will be even stronger next year and I'm sure that Alex will continue to contribute to the team's performance in the efficient way he did this year."