Former McLaren Formula One driver Mika Hakkinen has returned to the company the team confirmed on Thursday.
‘The Flying Finn’ who won back to back world championship’s with the Woking based outfit in 1998 and 1999 has joined the team as Partner Ambassador with immediate effect and will work alongside McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown.
Speaking about his new position, Hakkinen commented by saying:
I’ve always considered McLaren to be my home in Formula 1, and I still have an enormous place in my heart for everyone in the team. Of course, the past few years for McLaren haven’t been easy, but I’ve always believed that it’s only a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ McLaren will come good again – and I want to play my part in helping that happen.
“Returning to McLaren was an easy decision for me – I’ve never really lost contact, and I still know a lot of the hard-working men and women there from my eight-and-a-bit seasons with the team. “I’m also really looking forward to working with Zak, who owns one of my race-winning McLarens from 2001. We’ve spoken about how we can work together, and I can see that he’s putting in place the building blocks needed to help McLaren get back to the front. I’ll be collaborating closely with him during the exciting years ahead.
“Equally, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the exciting world of McLaren Automotive. I have a modern-day McLaren in my fleet of road cars, and it’s a truly superb machine. I firmly believe that McLaren makes the very best high-performance supercars in the world today.
McLaren Technology Group Executive Director Zak Brown commented by saying:
Mika [Hakkinen] is one of my all-time racing heroes, and a driver who remains one of the bravest, greatest and most iconic champions in Formula 1 history. His success with McLaren, and his battles with Michael [Schumacher], have become the stuff of Formula 1 legend, and underline Mika’s place among the pantheon of Grand Prix greats.
“Just as important, Mika is a hugely impressive individual away from the cockpit – sharp, intelligent, wise, calm, witty and still a huge fan of the sport. He’ll be an incredible asset to McLaren as we look to build on our partner portfolio and return to full competitiveness.
“It’s our intention to provide our partners with the best possible business and social experience, and having Mika as Partner Ambassador will certainly establish our presence at the pinnacle of Formula 1 team marketing and hospitality.
Hakkinen who drove in 130 Grand Prix for the Woking based outfit will also work with McLaren Automotive Group with their Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt stating:
Mika Hakkinen doesn’t just stand as one of the best drivers to have raced for McLaren; he’s one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers in the long history of the sport. Even now he’s still considered by many who worked with him to be the fastest man to ever race for McLaren – and that alone tells you just how revered and respected he remains within our organisation.
“He’s also remained enormously loyal to McLaren, he’s a proud owner of a McLaren P1™ and he’ll be an incredibly powerful and versatile ambassador for McLaren Automotive.
“Mika will be a thrilling addition to the McLaren family.
Hakkinen beat seven time world champion Michael Schumacher to the championship in 1998 with the pair enjoying incredible on track battles up until Hakkinen’s retirement from Formula One in 2001.