McLaren welcome former champion Hakkinen back

McLaren welcome former champion Hakkinen back

Mika Hakkinen is relishing his new opportunity as a partner ambassador with his former F1 team McLaren.

Two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen has signed a "multi-year deal" with former team McLaren as a partner ambassador.

The Finn drove for McLaren in eight of his 10 full seasons in F1, winning the drivers' titles in 1998 and 1999, before finishing second in 2000 as the British constructor dominated under Mercedes power.

He remained a regular visitor to the McLaren garage since leaving the sport in 2001, but now has a specific role with the team once again.

Hakkinen will work with established partners and business prospects in his new job, working closely with automotive chief executive officer Mike Flewitt.

"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," said the 48-year-old.

"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."

Meanwhile, reports have suggested McLaren have made initial contact with Mercedes about rekindling their relationship after testing problems with their current engine supplier Honda.

McLaren encountered numerous issues during pre-season tests in Barcelona, the team needing to change their power unit on at least four occasions.

Speculation had hinted they could ditch Honda for a return to Mercedes, especially after racing director Eric Boullier suggested the team would be winning races if they were powered by the German manufacturer.

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