In an interview with the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, Mika Hakkinen firmly denied the rumors of his retirement at the end of the 2000 Formula One season. A Team McLaren spokesperson had previously denied the reports as well. The reports...
In an interview with the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, Mika Hakkinen firmly denied the rumors of his retirement at the end of the 2000 Formula One season. A Team McLaren spokesperson had previously denied the reports as well.
The reports of his retirement were first made by the UK-based Motoring News, and have since spread like wildfire through other publications as well as the Internet.
"Under no circumstances will I retire after this season," said Hakkinen. The two-time champion said he was surprised by the rumors, and has been wondering whether these were started intentionally. "You have to think about the reasons why someone would spread rumors about my retirement."
As it is, Hakkinen's contract does not even allow him to retire before the 2001 season, whereas his teammate's, David Coulthard's, contract ends after this year. As a result of this long-term contract, Hakkinen will still be a McLaren pilot in 2001, contrary to the reports.
However, his teammate's identity has yet to be confirmed -- will Coulthard's contract be extended, or will Ron Dennis, the McLaren managing director, opt for someone else? Jacques Villeneuve's name keeps coming up in connection with a McLaren drive, but Ron Dennis is known for keeping his cards close to his chest.
Hakkinen says he expects to drive for several more years yet. "I still love racing as much as I did as a little boy. Maybe some people will think I'm strange, but I really think racing is fun."
That said, Hakkinen really doesn't see himself driving any more in five years' time. "In five years I would have driven in over 200 GPs, and I don't believe either Hakkinen or Michael Schumacher will be on the F1 circuit at that time," he said.