Photo: Daimler Media
Former Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug reveals there were secret negotiations in 1998 to have Michael Schumacher race alongside Mika Hakkinen at McLaren in 1999.
At the end of the 1990s, the battle for the world title was between Mika Hakkinen at McLaren-Mercedes and Michael Schumacher at Ferrari. In 1998 and 1999 it was McLaren-Mercedes that took the lead with two consecutive world titles from Mika Hakkinen.
Norbert Haug now tells F1’s podcast ‘Beyond The Grid’ that there were secret negotiations in 1998 to bring Michael Schumacher to McLaren but that those negotiations never led to anything.
“I knew Michael from when he was a Formula 3 driver, when I was a journalist, and he had come to Mercedes before I was there, ever since he was a junior,” Haug said.
“We were fierce competitors, but on the track and in the paddock we always had a good relationship.”
“I was joking that we should race together once. There were some secret negotiations in 1998, but it never happened.”
McLaren was de absolute top
“In theory it could have happened, but it didn’t happen, it is what it is. It wasn’t something that was completely impossible because we were really good in ’98 with the new formula, Adrian Newey’s car, so it was appealing to every driver.”
“Michael could have won a championship before, he could have won in ’99 without his accident, we could have won 2000 without a broken car.”
“It was a great period and it was a very intense battle, best described with the 2000 race at Spa,” Haug refers to the intense battle between the two drivers during that race and where Mika Hakkinen performed a sensational overtaking maneuver on Michael Schumacher. did.
Mercedes F1 pilot in 2010 after all
Although the negotiations broke down then, Michael Schumacher still raced for Mercedes on his comeback in 2010 and Haug has fond memories of that.
“He’s also a great manager,” Haug added. “He’s a really, really special guy.”
“Also having fun, working hard, taking care of other people, knowing the names of the mechanics and the children of the mechanics and all that, you know all those stories. It is just the truth.”
“I value him very highly, I have great memories with him.”
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