“There were some secret negotiations”– Ex-Mercedes boss reveals how Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen could have been teammates.
Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher were the fiercest of rivals at the peak of their careers. Michael Schumacher aced five good years with Ferrari, Hakkinen bagged two drivers’ championships with Adrian Newey’s super-designs.
But what would have happened if both drivers would have been in McLaren and drove Newey’s super-cars. A messy affair? or a highly dominant team of the early 2000s?
Well, the answer could never be made, but it is now reported that both drivers were closest to be teammates in 1999 when Nobert Haug had negotiations with Schumacher.
“I knew Michael from when he was a Formula 3 driver when I was a journalist, and he came to Mercedes before I was there – he was already there as a junior,” Haug said on Formula 1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“We were fierce competitors, but at the race track and in the paddock, we always had a good relationship. I joked that we needed to do it [race] together sometime. There were some secret negotiations in 1998 but they never came together.”
“In theory, it could have happened, but it didn’t come together – it is what it is. It wasn’t something that was completely impossible because we [McLaren] were really good in ’98 with the new formula, Adrian Newey car, so it was attractive for any driver.”
“Michael could have won a championship earlier on, he could have won in ’99 without his accident, we could have won 2000 without a car failure.”
“It was a great period of time and it was a very intense fight, best described with the 2000 race in Spa, with the two guys [battling].”
Michael Schumacher laid the foundation for Mercedes’ dominance
Haug was united with Schumacher’s return in F1 in 2010 with Mercedes, and at that point, the Brackley based team was nothing like today, and Haug credits Schumacher for guiding the team to glory in those years.
“He is a great manager as well,” Haug added. “He is a really, really special guy. Having fun as well, working hard, looking after other people, knowing the names of the mechanics and mechanics’ kids and so on – you know all these stories.”
“It’s just the truth. I rate him very highly – great memories.”