Thankful Hakkinen Says Goodbye to Racing

Finn Mika Hakkinen was thankful to Formula One and his fans as he confirmed on Friday that he was not going to return to the sport.

Thankful Hakkinen Says Goodbye to Racing

Finn Mika Hakkinen was thankful to Formula One and his fans as he confirmed on Friday that he was not going to return to the sport.

The two-time World Champion said goodbye to Formula One through a video recording shown by his former McLaren team at the Hockenheim circuit after the Woking-based squad announced that Scot David Coulthard and Finn Kimi Raikkonen would remain in the team in 2003.

Hakkinen turned his back on Formula One at the end of last season, announcing that he wanted to spend more time with his young family and was taking a year out. The 1998 and 1999 champion, who celebrated his 20th and last win at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis last September, competed in 161 races in his career.

The Finn said that his decision of stopping was the right one, and was thankful for the people's support over the years.

"If I was sitting in the communications centre to talk about my retirement I don't think I could give the best emotion about my feeling," said Hakkinen, speaking on the video from a garden bench. "I want to thank everyone very much and tell you that I will miss you all very much.

"At the Monaco Grand Prix in 2001 I informed Ron that I wanted to stop, but he wanted to make sure that I made the right decision and gave me the opportunity to take a sabbatical. Once I had spoken with Ron a huge weight came off my shoulders, I really enjoyed the rest of the season and was able to win at Silverstone and Indianapolis.

"At this year's Monaco Grand Prix I wasn't sure how I was going to feel but the visit made it clear to me that I had made the right decision and I told Ron that I was going to retire. I have been through so much in my Formula One career and achieved a lot and I just didn't think it was worth it to push things any further. I want to spend time with my family and see Hugo growing up.

"I have met a lot people over the years and there are so many I want to thank personally which I will do at a later time. All I can say now is a big heartfelt thank you to everybody. I appreciate the support and friendship you have showed me over the years. Thank you."

Hakkinen spent nine seasons at McLaren in a record-breaking partnership with David Coulthard, who joined him in 1996.

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