Rookie sensation Kimi Raikkonen is being linked to McLaren-Mercedes with a view to driving in 2003 if Mika Hakkinen continues for only one more year.

Peter Sauber confirmed over the Belgium Grand Prix weekend that Ron Dennis is keen to sign the Finn to a long term contract.

Sauber told Italian television company RAI: "Yes, McLaren is interested in Kimi. There will be negotiations in the next few weeks. Kimi is the driver of the future and we will, for sure, take that into account."

Sauber discovered the young Finn in 2000 and gave him his F1 debut this year even though he had only had a handful of single seater races to his name. This year the Finn has impressed people up and down the pit-lane with his maturity and stunning drives. Thus far he has scored nine points and along with his team-mate Nick Heidfeld has lead the Sauber team to their best year to date.

Currently the Swiss team is fourth in the championship on 20 points ahead of many better funded F1 outfits such as British American Racing, Jordan Grand Prix and the Ford backed team Jaguar.


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