SEPTEMBER 14, 2001
Will Hakkinen come back?
It is also difficult to imagine that Hakkinen will go to another team. Hakkinen himself admits that the move is a risk but feels that it is essential to take a break and get renewed enthusiasm for the sport. It worked for Alain Prost back in 1992 (although the decision to sit out a year was not made from choice) and Prost was driving a car which was far ahead of the opposition. Even so he had difficulty beating Damon Hill by the end of the year.
In Formula 1 circles the announcement is being treated by many as Hakkinen's retirement.
The fact that Alexander Wurz has been passed over for the drive is a very obvious slap in the face for the Austrian although he remains the team's third driver because there is not much else for him to do at the moment.
The recruitment of Raikkonen is a logical step but we have yet to see what the pay-off will be for Peter Sauber. The Swiss team owner does not need money and it might have taken rather more to convince him that he should let Raikkonen go. It may be that there is some kind of deal that he will get Mercedes-Benz engines in 2003 and it is quite possible that he might also find himself being offered Hakkinen as well.
That will all emerge in the fullness of time...