Hakkinen to rejoin McLaren

UPDATE #2 (GMM) Mercedes-Benz has added its own denial to speculation that former double world champion Mika Hakkinen could return to F1 next year as McLaren 'third' driver. Some media commentators noted that McLaren's earlier denial had been 'deliberately vague.' The 'vague' statement said: ''No party … (is) involved in any talks with regard to our F1 program.'' But now Mercedes, in an exclusive statement to this publication, repeated that 36-year-old Finnish-born Hakkinen's 'sole objective' in 2005 will be the DTM touring car championship. The spokesman also said: ''(Mika) will have no involvement in the (McLaren) Formula One program.'' 12/14/04 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. (GMM) F1 squad McLaren has denied their former double world champion will return in a testing capacity in 2005. Earlier, it was reported that the once-retired Mika Hakkinen – signed to race a Mercedes-powered touring car next season – may drive the silver F1 racer as 'third' pilot from January. But a McLaren statement insisted that 36-year-old Mika's 'sole objective' for 2005 is to race in the tin-top DTM category. It continued: ''No party from McLaren, Mercedes-Benz or Mika Hakkinen's management are involved in any talks with regard to our F1 program.'' Website grandprix.com, though – who broke the story – remain adamant that reliable (and multiple) sources did not get the rumor wrong, and noted that the statement's wording may be deliberately vague. ''There is or was a story … somewhere,'' the publication maintained. 12/10/04 The latest whisper in F1 circles is that Mika Hakkinen may be named as the third driver of McLaren and will help the team to develop the MP4-20 in 2005 and will stand in for Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya if either has any reason to miss a race. The move would not be a surprise given that Hakkinen has signed to race for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM in 2005 and his experience in F1, which includes two World Championship titles, would be very useful to the team and perhaps to Hakkinen as well, who says that he would like to be back in F1. We await confirmation of the deal but expect to see Hakkinen join the team in January when testing resumes. Grandprix.com

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