Mika may return as a test driver

In a recent interview, double world champion Mika Hakkinen has considered the possibility of returning to the racing scene in a testing capacity. While he didn't actually state that this was on the agenda for the upcoming 2002-championship season,...

In a recent interview, double world champion Mika Hakkinen has considered the possibility of returning to the racing scene in a testing capacity. While he didn't actually state that this was on the agenda for the upcoming 2002-championship season, he did admit that if he wanted to do it he was confident that McLaren team boss, Ron Dennis would find the extra car to enable him to do it. Mika also talked about his in-depth emotions behind the decision to take a sabbatical from Formula 1.

The Finn revealed that he fully expected McLaren team boss Ron Dennis to leave the door open for him to test next season. "If I suddenly get the feeling that there is no sense in being away and I must be able to race again, then there we go again," he said. "When it comes, then we will see what happens. I know that if I want to test again, everything is possible. Ron Dennis understands me very well in this kind of a situation. If my fingers are going to itch too much during next year, I believe that McLaren will be able to find one extra car for me to test."

Hakkinen also explained that although he was still passionate about racing, and truly expected to return to Formula 1, he was physically and emotionally tired by the pressure of motor racing's premier league and also by the large amounts of travelling that testing and racing involve. "I have been racing since I was six years old," he stated. "First it was only a hobby, but it became a very serious racing business. Throughout all the time I have been under the biggest pressure, especially under pressure to perform at my best - winning all the time."

"Each weekend has meant the turmoil of travelling, packing and unpacking, moving from one hotel to another. I confess that it started to affect me physically, and it also started to affect my racing. Coming back from Japan I took my son Hugo in my arms and realized he is already almost one year old. How time flies... I want to enjoy having a chance to spend longer times with my wife Erja and my son Hugo without having to go somewhere else all the time."

Hakkinen won two races this season, in Britain and the USA, events that he admitted beforehand were very important for him to triumph in. But he also had the disappointment of his car breaking down just half a lap from the chequered flag when leading the Spanish GP and experienced a terrifying accident at the Australian race, when his suspension broke and he was catapulted into the tyre wall at over 300 km/h.

These disappointments, especially the accident which reminded him of his near fatal crash in the 1995 Australian GP, all took their toll on him and helped him to decide he needed a break - a decision he is yet to regret. "Right now I feel pure joy," he commented elatedly. "Because it is over. I don't want to be sad at this moment. It is fun for me.

"All the people and friends in Formula 1 are not going to disappear anywhere, and are not going to leave the planet. So why should I be sad?" He then continued to explain why he knew he world return, when several other eminent figures in the pit lane have expressed doubt that he will race in formula1 again. "Racing a Grand Prix car is still great. I love it. It is my passion," he commented.

"Like I have said many time before, I feel that driving is the thing I can do better than anything else and I know that the spark to race has not died. It was only a question of my body needing some rest...It is very likely that I will be racing an F1 car again, but it is impossible to say exactly when. Ask me again in a few months!"

Hakkinen currently has a contract tying him to McLaren should he decide to return to Formula 1 racing in 2003. Meanwhile the Finn, who decided to hang up his helmet at Suzuka just over two weeks ago, is still undecided about his future plans. While it was stated earlier this year that he would make his return to the sport in 2003, now he is not to willing to discuss the issue, simply stating that he is confident that the day will come when he is back behind the wheel, but as for when….“

"Ask me the question again in a few months!"

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen
Teams McLaren