Mika Hakkinen to drive McLaren-Mercedes in 1997 Stuttguart/Woking - 13th September 1996. Mika Hakkinen will compete in his third Formula One season in a McLaren-Mercedes and will team up with David Coulthard in 1997. This decision was taken...
Mika Hakkinen to drive McLaren-Mercedes in 1997
Stuttguart/Woking - 13th September 1996. Mika Hakkinen will compete in his third Formula One season in a McLaren-Mercedes and will team up with David Coulthard in 1997. This decision was taken following a final discussion between McLaren and Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart on Wednesday this week.
"Just in the last two Grand Prix at Spa and Monza Mika has again proved his talent," said Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Manager Norbert Haug, "Mika was an example for reliability and speed, he finished in 12 of the 14 Grand Prix, was ten times in the points and on the podium three times in the last five races."
Ron Dennis commented: "Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have throughout this season conducted an extensive and detailed evaluation so as to determine the best possible choice of driver for the one available seat in a McLaren-Mercedes for 1997. The firm conclusion of all involved in this study was that the team should continue with Mika 'Hakkinen for 1997. I have always felt that Mika has the talent and commitment to be a World Champion. Mika's performance this year, especially following his accident in Adelaide last year, has only served to increase my belief in his potential. Mika's performances in the last two Grand Prix have been particularly impressive and would have seen Mika placed even higher than third but for a combination of unfortunate circumstances. McLaren and Mercedes will continue to do all possible to enable him to fulfill his potential."
Mika Hakkenin added: "I am delighted. We have already achieved a great deal after only two years together in developing the engine chassis combination and I firmly believe that we are now extremely close to our first Grand Prix victory. I have enjoyed working with and competing against David this year and look forward to next year in the McLaren-Mercedes team. My objective will be to reward McLaren and Mercedes' loyalty to me in the best possible manner which is to win as many races as I can."
The McLaren-Mercedes team have considered a number of drivers to form the driver line-up in 1997. Ralf Schumacher, the 21 year old brother of the World Champion Michael Schumacher, achieved an impressive performance in two track tests held at Silverstone. Whilst the team offered Ralf the opportunity to test in 1997, it understands his desire to secure a seat within another Formula One team. "Whils we would very much like to work with Ralf both now and in the future, we wish him every success in his search for a suitable opportunity in Formula One" added Norbert Haug."