Two-time F1 champion Mika Hakkinen has been confirmed to compete in the 2019 Suzuka 10 Hours race in a McLaren.
The 50-year-old will make a one-off return to racing where he will drive the McLaren 720S GT3 car in the inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours event – which forms the penaultimate round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge on August 23-25.
Hakkinen will pair up with gentleman racer Katsuaki Kubota and Super Formula/Super GT driver Hiroaki Ishiura in the Pro/Am category. This will be the ‘Flying Finn’s’ first competitive outing since the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup finale at Zhuhai in 2011.
“I visited Suzuka Circuit for the first time in 16 years in March 2017 and was able to meet Japan’s enthusiastic fans once again,” said Hakkinen. “Then, last year, I drove the MP4/13 and enjoyed Suzuka’s unique figure-of-eight track layout.
“So, this year, I decided to return to racing for the first time since the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup round at Zhuhai in November 2011, and I chose Suzuka Circuit as the place for my comeback.
“Suzuka was also the place where I won the Formula 1 World Championship for the first time and where I have so many enthusiastic Japanese friends. I am very grateful to Katsu [Kubota]-san and Mobilityland for making this wonderful project possible.
“And I hope to see the Japanese fans again in August.” This will also be Hakkinen’s first time in a McLaren race car since his last F1 outing in 2001. He hung around in DTM post his F1 career but drove for Mercedes in all those years.
The Finn has been active off-track as McLaren’s ambassador and recently visited the Bahrain GP as well but it changes with the one-off return to racing at the iconic Suzuka circuit where – as he mentioned above – he won his first F1 title in 1998s.