Two-times Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen will drive a Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car for the first time since the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix on Thursday 30th November 2006 when he will conduct a day's testing at the Circuit de Catalunya...
Two-times Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen will drive a Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car for the first time since the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix on Thursday 30th November 2006 when he will conduct a day's testing at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain.
This will constitute part of the team's winter testing programme in preparation for the 2007 season in which double World Champion Fernando Alonso and GP2 Champion Lewis Hamilton will be competing for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.
Mika asked for the opportunity to re-familiarise himself with a Formula 1 car, and the team will use this test to benefit from Mika's experience and obtain his feedback with regards to changes in downforce, engine and tyres following the regulatory changes which have occurred since he last drove a Formula 1 car.
Since retiring from Formula 1, Mika has remained an integral part of the Team McLaren Mercedes family by competing in the DTM Touring Car Championship as a works driver for Mercedes-Benz with an AMG-Mercedes C Class. Only last week the links were further strengthened when Mika was announced as an ambassador for Johnnie Walker -- a long-term commercial partner of Team McLaren Mercedes.
"I'm really excited about driving a Team McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car again and to be re-engaging with the team," said the 38-year-old Finn. "I have followed the Formula 1 World Championship closely since my retirement at the end of the 2001 season, but it was when I was at this year's Brazilian Grand Prix as a guest of the team that I really felt I would like to get a chance to drive a Formula 1 car again."
"I have recently spent some time in Team McLaren Mercedes' simulator in Woking and to get the possibility to drive the MP4-21 is something I'm really looking forward to. I would like to thank Ron and Norbert for making this happen. This test is a chance for me to see how much Formula 1 cars have advanced and experience first hand what they are like to drive today as well as providing the team with some feedback on various aspects of the car's performance."
"We are delighted to provide Mika with the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car again," said Ron Dennis, Team Principal of Team McLaren Mercedes. "He is really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a current Formula 1 car. A driver of Mika's calibre and experience can only bring added value to our testing programme and his feedback after Thursday's running will be valuable to the team in our preparations for the 2007 season. However at this stage there are no plans for Mika to conduct further tests for the team."
"Mika has always been a very important part of the McLaren Mercedes family," said Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. "With his two Formula 1 World Championship titles and 20 Grands Prix wins for the team he has contributed a lot to the success of the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team."
"Since 2005 he has been competing in the DTM Touring Car Championship and clearly shown that he has not lost any of his speed or commitment. Everybody in the team is happy to see him at the wheel of our Formula 1 car again and we look forward to some interesting comments. However nobody should draw the conclusion that Mika will switch back to Formula 1 after this test."
Team McLaren Mercedes has been testing at Circuit de Catalunya since Tuesday 28th November with Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa. Mika will take over from Pedro on the Thursday 30th November. The Barcelona test will be followed by two additional tests in Jerez, Spain before Christmas.