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Mika Hakkinen returns to McLaren F1 in partner ambassador role

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McLaren has announced that two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has rejoined the team in the role of partner ambassador.

Hakkinen spent the bulk of his F1 career with McLaren, racing for the team between 1993 and 2001 in a period that included drivers’ championship victories in 1998 and 1999.

Hakkinen retired from F1 at the end of the 2001 season at the age of 33, but has remained a keen observer of the sport and regularly appears in the paddock.

The Finn will now be returning to McLaren in an official capacity, with the team announcing on Thursday that he would be its new partner ambassador, working with recently-appointed executive director Zak Brown and his marketing team.

“I’ve always considered McLaren to be my home in Formula 1, and I still have an enormous place in my heart for everyone in the team,” Hakkinen said.

“Of course, the past few years for McLaren haven’t been easy, but I’ve always believed that it’s only a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ McLaren will come good again – and I want to play my part in helping that happen.

“Returning to McLaren was an easy decision for me – I’ve never really lost contact, and I still know a lot of the hard-working men and women there from my eight-and-a-bit seasons with the team.

“I’m also really looking forward to working with Zak, who owns one of my race-winning McLarens from 2001. We’ve spoken about how we can work together, and I can see that he’s putting in place the building blocks needed to help McLaren get back to the front. I’ll be collaborating closely with him during the exciting years ahead.”

Brown added: “Mika is one of my all-time racing heroes, and a driver who remains one of the bravest, greatest and most iconic champions in Formula 1 history. His success with McLaren, and his battles with Michael, have become the stuff of Formula 1 legend, and underline Mika’s place among the pantheon of grand prix greats.

“Just as important, Mika is a hugely impressive individual away from the cockpit – sharp, intelligent, wise, calm, witty and still a huge fan of the sport. He’ll be an incredible asset to McLaren as we look to build on our partner portfolio and return to full competitiveness.

“It’s our intention to provide our partners with the best possible business and social experience, and having Mika as Partner Ambassador will certainly establish our presence at the pinnacle of Formula 1 team marketing and hospitality.”

Bryan Sellers aims to be first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Champion

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Bryan Sellers will leave the familiar confines of his Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and head into the unknown in 2019.

At the age of 36, Sellers has 25 years of competitive racing behind him and is turning his attention to the battery-powered Jaguar I-PACE sedan that he will driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – something he describes as “the way of the future.”

Racing for Ohio native Bobby Rahal, it is a connection that brings him home to his roots. Sellers was born in Centerville, Ohio. 

“I’m very proud to be a part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Sellers said in a press release. “I grew up in Ohio watching Bobby (Rahal) win races and build an incredible racing program and it will be nice to finally get to see it from the inside.”

Sellers’ electric-powered Jaguar won’t have the same horsepower as the V10 Lamborghini that he steered to victory in the 2018 IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car championship with co-driver Madison Snow and Katherine Legge.

At his heart, Sellers is a  racer chasing a championship and it’s not the horsepower but the potential for close competition that drives him. Next year, he has an opportunity to win the first ever Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Championship.

In 2016, Jaguar joined the Formula E series. Now they are looking to make history with the world’s first all-electric production-based international race series that will compete at 10 venues next year in support of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.

The series’ 10 venues will be international, racing on tracks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, China, Italy, Mexico, France, Monaco, Germany and the USA, which will showcase electric cars on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, in July.

“Electric cars are clearly the way of the future and to be involved with the first electric production car racing series is very important to me,” Sellers said. “I’m very thankful to everyone at RLL and Jaguar for giving me this opportunity.”

Sellers raced fulltime in the American LeMans Series from 2005 through 2013 – amassing four victories and two other podium finishes. In 30 career races in the Grand-Am Series, he added three more visits to the podium.

But it was last year that was clearly the highlight for Sellers. For the second time in his career, he scored multiple wins in a series (Sellers had two wins in ALMS in 2011), but he stood on the podium eight times in addition to winning the championship.

Joining Sellers in the I-PACE eTROPHY Championship Jaguar next year will be Legge, who was one of his co-drivers in 2018.

“Experience, maturity and pace are very important qualities that I was looking for when we chose our driver lineup,” said Rahal, the former IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner.

The series will kickoff with the Formula E season-opener in Riyadh on December 15, 2018. They will not run in conjunction with the next two Formula E rounds and will rejoin for most of the remainder of the 2019 season.