Mercedes has confirmed that Mika Hakkinen is to return to DTM competition for a third season in 2007.
The Finn will drive the new DTM version of the C-Class, unveiled earlier this month in Stuttgart, and will be looking to build on a sixth place finish in the championship standings last season – one place lower than his debut season in 2005 when he finished fifth on the back of a campaign that saw him win on only his third start.
Admitting that his results during 2006 weren't a true reflection his pace, the double Formula One world champion said his aim for the new season was to put that right and show what he can do in a DTM machine.
“It's nice to continue being part of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport family further on,” the Finn said. “Everybody at Mercedes-Benz and HWA has supported me very much during the last two years, and I feel absolutely comfortable here.
“My results in 2006 don't reflect our true potential and my target is to rectify that this year. However my three podium finishes and two fastest race lap times indicate that the speed is there and that I can fight for victories if everything runs without problems. I also want to show what I am capable of in the DTM.
“It is important for me to continue my long standing, successful partnership with Mercedes-Benz and to have a long-term prospect with them. In my view the DTM is the best touring car series in the world and I want to achieve the best results there. For this I will prepare myself intensively to create the best possible conditions as I ready myself for the start of the season."
Mercedes motorsport boss Nortbert Haug said he was delighted to retain Hakkinen's services into the new season and is convinced that the best is still to come.
“It's good news from three view points that Mika will continue in the DTM,” he said. “First of all, he will strengthen our team and remain a great and worldwide well-known ambassador for our brand. Secondly, Mika's continued involvement will boost the entire series and thirdly, Mika has been in the spotlight of all media and spectators interest since his first lap in the DTM.
“I am convinced that in 2007 his fans will see the best of Mika.”