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Grapevine: Exclusive: Mika Denies BMW Contact

Mika Hakkinen has denied reports that he is talking to BMW about a possible return to Formula One next year with the Sauber team, telling Autosport-Atlas he has no plans to leave current employer Mercedes

German tabloid Bild reported this weekend that BMW, who bought the Sauber team and will run it as of 2006, is interested in bringing Hakkinen back to Formula One next year and the two sides have begun talks.

However, the 37-year old Finn insisted had no contact with BMW. "I don't fully understand where this story comes from," Hakkinen told Autosport-Atlas.

"I'm extremely comfortable in the Mercedes family. They look after me and support me and I'm having a great time in the DTM. I know of no contact [with BMW], but you should ask my manager."

Hakkinen's manager, Didier Coton, also reiterated the story had no substance. "It's pure speculation from Germany - that is all," he said when quizzed by Autosport-Atlas. "Mika is very happy at Mercedes and I don't see any reason for that situation to change."

Hakkinen has not driven in Formula One for the past four seasons and, at the age of 37, is unlikely to choose a full-time drive in a series as demanding as F1.

In a recent interview with Autosport-Atlas, Hakkinen made it clear he was happy with the lesser demands of the DTM series, where he is not required to test between races and only has less than a dozen events to attend in a season.

"The most important thing is that you can live a life and enjoy your life," Hakkinen explained. "And how you enjoy your life is to work hard and make good results in your job, have a great time with your family, have time to spend with your family, time to see friends, and have time to spend with your sisters or brothers.

"That is a combination of what is absolute luxury if you can have it. And DTM enables you to do that. It enables you to have a couple of weeks with your family and to see your friends.

"It combines everything together and then you come to the race weekend at DTM, you are full of sunshine, you are happy, motivated, energised to have a good time and you enjoy it. It is a great thing.

"And that is part of the whole thing of DTM. And I am not only talking about myself. The mechanics and the marketing people, the management, they don't have to travel all the time to different countries, they can stabilise their lives. It means less arguments, less divorces, and families are happy. It is great, you know..."

This weekend at the Nurburgring, where Hakkinen qualified second in today's DTM Super Pole, the Finn was nonetheless evasive on turning his back on Formula One.

When asked if he would be tempted if such an offer, as attributed to BMW, of an F1 drive arose, Hakkinen simply replied: "I think your question is very unfair."

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