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banner Monday, 9 July, 2001, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Hakkinen 'set to retire'
Olivier Panis (left) and Mika Hakkinen in 2000
Will Panis replace Hakkinen at McLaren?
McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen will retire at the end of the season to be replaced by Oliver Panis, according to a German motorsport magazine.

Auto Bild claim the former world champion will be succeeded by Frenchman Panis, who is driving for British American Racing this year.

Panis was McLaren's test driver last year and is highly rated by the team.

Norbert Haug, sporting director of McLaren's engine partner Mercedes, said: "As ever in such cases, it is all pure speculation."

Mika Hakkinen is given a lift back to the pits by David Coulthard at the Spanish Grand Prix
Hakkinen has had bad luck and poor form this season

And McLaren said that they have options on Hakkinen and David Coulthard for 2002 and are in no hurry to make an announcement.

Coulthard's future has been firmed up - his contract has been actioned for next season.

But Hakkinen's remains in doubt - McLaren are waiting to make an announcement until they have firmed up either his commitment or found a replacement.

Hakkinen, world champion in 1998 and 1999, has scored only nine points in 10 races this season.

His relatively poor performances have intensified speculation about McLaren stepping up their search for a replacement.

"This is only sport and my humour will be enough," said had Hakkinen in France nine days ago.

"It has to be, because where you can't have any effect, it is of no use to throw your gloves in.

"This season is a terrible disappointment and all I can think of is a new fight in the future."

Dream stays alive

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve last week played down talk of joining McLaren, saying he was minded to stay with BAR.

But former world champion Villeneuve, who is also not having a good season, says he does not want to give up on his dream of taking the team to the top.

Despite only two points finishes in this season's 10 races, Villeneuve remains convinced that his team are as well placed as any to mount a challenge to Ferrari's dominance.

"Apart from Ferrari, there is nothing clear on who is going to be competitive," Villeneuve said.

"We have as good a chance as anyone else apart from Ferrari next year, so after all the hard work that has been put in here (at BAR) it will not probably be the right thing to do to change."

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01 Jul 01 |  Formula One
Coulthard wins new McLaren deal
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