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DECEMBER 14, 2007

McLaren signs Kovalainen

McLaren-Mercedes has announced that the team has signed Heikki Kovalainen to partner Lewis Hamilton for the 2008 season.

Kovalainen, who the team said has been signed to a long-term contract, said, "I am so excited to join a team like Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. So far I have been blown away by the dedication and commitment to winning which is clear through the entire organisation and I am really excited about our joint future. As a Finn it™s an honour for me to follow in Mika and Kimi™s footsteps. I haven™t really spent a lot of time with Lewis so far but from what I know I think we will work well together and do our best for the team."

Martin Whitmarsh said, "We had a number of options open to us and as always we want to make sure that we have the most competitive driver line-up and I think that Lewis and Heikki will be a formidable combination. Both enjoyed great rookie seasons in 2007 and share a genuine passion for winning and being the best. Heikki made a strong impression and Lewis™ performance so far has been outstanding and speaks for itself. I am confident that they will push each other on track and work well together off track. In addition with Pedro remaining our primary test driver alongside Gary, we really have a strong package and look forward to 2008."

Norbert Haug, Vice President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said, "Heikki is a talented driver who showed his skills during his debut season in Formula 1 this year. Heikki™s most impressive performance was at the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji where he finished second behind Lewis in extremely treacherous wet conditions. He is not only a quick driver but also one of the most consistent having finished in every Grand Prix except the last which puts him in the top five together with our drivers who covered most laps in 2007. Everybody in the team is looking forward to a very fruitful co-operation. Lewis and Heikki will form one of the youngest driver line-ups, and I am convinced that both will be very strong and at the same time co-operative competitors."