Dennis: Hakkinen Decision Came as No Surprise

McLaren chief Ron Dennis commented today on Mika Hakkinen's announcement that he will not return to the sport, saying the decision was expected.

Dennis: Hakkinen Decision Came as No Surprise

McLaren chief Ron Dennis commented today on Mika Hakkinen's announcement that he will not return to the sport, saying the decision was expected.

After the end of his last season in Formula One, Hakkinen returned to the Grand Prix paddock for the first time in Monaco this year, and Dennis said that back then, he knew that the Finn would not return to racing.

"When he came to visit in Monte Carlo in 2002, whilst there was not a specific decision, it was very clear that he was happy and without pressure, and it didn't need to be said - if you know someone that well, you pretty much know the decision before they tend to. So that was really how it unfolded," Dennis told reporters today in Germany.

"But, I have to say that we were very honest and he was very honest and we didn't talk about the decision quite deliberately until after the press conference (in Monaco this year), because we didn't want to sit in front of everybody and not tell the truth.

"So I didn't want to know (his decision) until after the press conference, the point in which we sat together and talked about it."

Two-time World Champion Hakkinen struggled at the initial part of the 2001 season, but then raised his game in the second part of the year, winning the British and US Grands Prix to retire from the sport with a total of 20 victories during his 11-year career.

Dennis revealed that, after making the decision in Monaco in 2001 to take the next year off, Hakkinen raced with no pressure.

"In 2001 I felt that he had pressure coming from the indecision (of what to do in 2002) - and yes, he had indecision," Dennis said. "So the strategy we adopted in Monte Carlo in 2001 was to first of all remove the pressure.

"He really raced thereafter with no pressure, because he had certainty about (what he will be doing in) 2002. Secondly, it put us in a position to be able to consider the best way to fill that vacant seat for 2002."

As revealed by Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug, Hakkinen will continue his ties with the German marquee in the future. Dennis confirmed that the Finn would be involved in PR activities and said that for the time being he would have no real involvement with McLaren.

"He has a relationship with my partners Mercedes-Benz and will feature in some advertisements and will be involved in some relatively low pressure activities," Dennis said. "He's not going to suddenly become a guru for our drivers or hold a position in our team or another team.

"He is very much devoted to being with and enjoying his kids... well, his current child - I am sure they will want more and that's another part of his decision.

"Just watching the family grow up, it's as simple as that. To be honest, I wish that I had that particular luxury and I am sure there are lots of other men who would want to have it as well. He's got the ability to do it, so he's going to enjoy that."

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