Angie: The Sports Authority

Welcome to Angie's sports blog! My interesting and funny articles will show you the most recent and interesting news in the sports world.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

F1: Mika Hakkinen is back with McLaren

Mika Hakkinen is back into Formula 1,and it is curious to notice that it was on a special day for Lewis Hamilton. He underlined his potential as a pilot in the Spanish practice.

In fact, following last week's confirmation he would partner reigning world champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren for 2007, Hamilton has spent the last two days in the spotlight.

However, double world champion Hakkinen stole the show on the final day of a three-day test session at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

For the first time since the final grand prix of the 2001 season, Hakkinen drove a McLaren, with the squad insisting his return was to aid their winter testing programme.

Former team chief Eddie Jordan had earlier slammed the move as "a publicity stunt", and was unable to understand the logic behind team principal Ron Dennis' decision.

And maybe unsurprisingly, the 38-year-old Finn took a considerable period of time to adapt to a modern Formula One vehicle, and by the end of the session was just over three seconds off the pace.

It's important to know that Hakkinen finished last of the 18 drivers, completing 77 laps and with his fastest a time of one minute 19.340 seconds.

Actually, putting the situation into perspective, Hakkinen said: "It has been an exciting day, and I have enjoyed the chance to drive a Formula 1 car after a five-year break.

"I think I spent the morning acclimatising to the environment of the cockpit again and just getting to grips with driving a 2006 car.

"Well, I didn't expect to be quick straightaway, and Barcelona is a hard track on both the car and driver. It just took several laps before I was up to speed, but we were all expecting this to be the case.

"However, it was great fun, I also had to do some serious work for the team as any feedback I could give them from today's experience will help them with their training for the 2007 season.

"As a result I was strongly pushing to try and do the best job that I could to assist them in any way possible.

"We have done some great work and got some great results and I am really grateful to the team for this opportunity and the mechanics for working so hard for me."

Now let's mention something about Hamilton: he enjoyed his best day behind the wheel of the McLaren so far, posting a time 1min 17.077secs at the end of 86 laps.

As we said, for the 21-year-old Briton, that was a further seven-tenths-of-a-second improvement on his best time of yesterday, and seven tenths behind the quickest lap set by Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer.

At the end of his first week as a McLaren driver, Hamilton said: "I have enjoyed every moment of it.

"With the announcement being made last week it has meant that I have been able to really get to grips with driving the car and building a relationship with the team.

"It is early days still, but this week has been really positive."

Finally, we must mention that Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard and Anthony Davidson, embarking on his F1 career with Super Aguri, also had a good performance among these last sessions.