Mika Hakkinen says leaving McLaren is a major gamble for Lewis Hamilton
Finn says Mercedes must start to deliver results
By William Esler. Last Updated: 14/02/13 9:20am
Mika Hakkinen: Says Lewis Hamilton is thinking long-term
Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen says Lewis Hamilton has taken a big gamble in leaving McLaren for Mercedes.
The Finn spent all but two years of his Formula 1 career with the Woking-based team, winning the title in both 1998 and the following year.
After quitting F1, he joined Mercedes for three seasons competing in the DTM series and is thus well-placed to pass judgement on the workings of both organisations.
The 44-year-old feels that the Silver Arrows have underperformed since returning to the sport and says they need to start delivering this season ahead of new engine rules - which Mercedes hope will boost their competitiveness - in 2014.
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"McLaren are a great team - they are always targeting victory and are just a fantastic team," Hakkinen told Sky Sports News Radio.
"So for him to go to Mercedes, I think we will know better half way through the season, but I think Lewis is thinking for the long-term anyway. They've had quite a few bad years so they really need to start producing good results this year in my opinion.
"Testing did not start well for them - there was a brake failure and Lewis crashed - so it was a bad start to the season. But testing is testing and if one driver is running with a full tank of fuel then your lap times can be two or three seconds slower easily. So testing can sometimes be misleading."
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Hamilton's replacement at McLaren, Sergio Perez, has confidently talked about challenging for the title in his first year with the team and Hakkinen hopes that self-assurance is not misplaced.
"He is very confident at the moment - he is looking at winning races and Championships - which is a positive sign," he added.
"But let's hope he is not too confident as that is how the mistakes happen."