Mika Hakkinen returns to McLaren as partner ambassador

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Double world champion Mika Hakkinen has rejoined former team McLaren as a partner ambassador on a "multi-year deal".

Hakkinen drove for McLaren between 1993 and 2001, winning the title in 1998 and 1999. The Finn is moving into a newly-established role which will see him work alongside executive director Zak Brown and the team's marketing staff to deal with partners.

"I've always considered McLaren to be my home in Formula One, and I still have an enormous place in my heart for everyone in the team," Hakkinen said. "Of course, the past few years for McLaren haven't been easy, but I've always believed that it's only a matter of 'when' rather than 'if' McLaren will come good again - and I want to play my part in helping that happen.

"Returning to McLaren was an easy decision for me -- I've never really lost contact, and I still know a lot of the hard-working men and women there from my eight-and-a-bit seasons with the team.

"I'm also really looking forward to working with Zak, who owns one of my race-winning McLarens from 2001. We've spoken about how we can work together, and I can see that he's putting in place the building blocks needed to help McLaren get back to the front. I'll be collaborating closely with him during the exciting years ahead.

"Equally, I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the exciting world of McLaren Automotive. I have a modern-day McLaren in my fleet of road cars, and it's a truly superb machine. I firmly believe that McLaren makes the very best high-performance supercars in the world today."

Executive director Brown, who started working at the team earlier this year, thinks the addition of Hakkinen will help McLaren in its search for new partners.

"Mika is one of my all-time racing heroes, and a driver who remains one of the bravest, greatest and most iconic champions in Formula 1 history. His success with McLaren, and his battles with Michael [Schumacher], have become the stuff of Formula One legend, and underline Mika's place among the pantheon of Grand Prix greats.

"Just as important, Mika is a hugely impressive individual away from the cockpit --sharp, intelligent, wise, calm, witty and still a huge fan of the sport. He'll be an incredible asset to McLaren as we look to build on our partner portfolio and return to full competitiveness.