JULY 25, 2001

Hakkinen tries DTM Mercedes

MIKA HAKKINEN swapped a V10 Formula 1 car for a V8 touring car, when Mercedes-Benz arranged for him to try one of its all-conquering CLK coupes from the German Touring Car championship (DTM), at the Czech circuit of Brno.

The car in which German driver Bernd Schneider has reclaimed his mantle as the undisputed master of touring cars, after success with the Stuttgart marque's C-Class racers of the late 1990s, was decked out in a silver and black livery based on Hakkinen's McLaren F1 car, and the Finn appeared to enjoy himself enormously.

"I have watched a couple of DTM events on TV and I always wanted to drive such a car myself," said Hakkinen. "It was a great experience for me."

Schneider drove Hakkinen round the Czech circuit for eight laps before they swapped seats and Mika showed him what he could do. "I was impressed with how quick Mika adapted," said Schneider. "He has an incredible feeling for the car." Hakkinen ended his day out by taking wife Erja out for a spin.