Wednesday August 22nd, 2001
Mika Hakkinen is set to stay at McLaren next year, the double Formula One champion's manager Keke Rosberg has said.
"I would not be on a holiday at this moment if there was something unclear in Mika Hakkinen's agreement with McLaren," 1982 champion Rosberg told the Finnish tabloid newspaper Iltalehti. "The fact that McLaren have not published their continuation agreement with Mika has nothing to do with Mika."
Rosberg would not comment further on the agreement between Hakkinen - who won the title in 1998 and 1999 - and McLaren, and said it was the team's job to make it public when it felt the time was ripe.
"McLaren boss Ron Dennis, Mika and I have worked together for years, but we have never leaked into public details of former or new agreements or of ongoing negotiations," he said.
Rosberg cast doubt on Hakkinen's teammate David Coulthard after reports on Tuesday quoted him as suggesting he might have a different teammate in 2002. The two drivers have the longest-standing partnership in Formula One history.
"If David Coulthard does not at the moment know who his teammate is, David must not know on which team he is driving next year," Rosberg said.
Hakkinen, who has spent eleven years in Formula One, has had a disappointing season, winning just one race and taking 21 points in 13 races so far compared to Coulthard's 51. The 32-year old Finn has admitted to thinking about retirement in the past but has denied persistent reports that he is considering quitting at the end of the year.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis tried to dampen the speculation at Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, saying the team wanted to have other staff such as test drivers in place before announcing next year's line-up.
"We are well aware of the things that have been said but they are no more than speculation," he said, referring to reports linking other drivers with the team. We know exactly where we are going on our driver line-up. We know almost exactly to the day when we are intending to have a press release and explain our strategy. It's more elaborate than just a selection of F1 drivers."
Published at 11:24:35 GMT