Motor racing-Hamilton says McLaren need a team player

STUTTGART, Germany, Nov 4 (Reuters) McLaren must recruit a team player to replace Spaniard Fernando Alonso, Formula One championship runner-up Lewis Hamilton said yesterday.

''I think we just need a team player. I hope whoever we have, we have another team player,'' the 22-year-old Briton told a Mercedes end of season 'Stars and Cars' event.

Double world champion Alonso, whose relationship with McLaren soured after he accused the team of favouring Hamilton, left Ron Dennis's outfit on Friday by mutual agreement despite having two years left on his contract.

Hamilton said he had no idea who was favourite to be his new team mate.

''I think Nick Heidfeld has already been signed to BMW so I think there's Nico (Rosberg), Adrian Sutil, Heikki Kovalainen, one of those three and I haven't really guessed which one,'' he told reporters.

''They are all fantastic drivers and I know all of them quite well. If I could choose I honestly don't know who I would pick.

''They all have contracts so that's what makes it so hard to guess. They are all tied down.'' Germany's Rosberg is at Williams, rookie compatriot Sutil at Spyker (renamed Force India for 2008) while Finland's Kovalainen has just finished his first season with Renault.

Alonso's exit has left Hamilton, winner of four races this year, as McLaren's effective team leader on the track despite his youth.

Also at Mercedes's end of season celebration, McLaren's double world champion Mika Hakkinen announced he was retiring from racing in the German Touring Car (DTM) series.

The Finn quit Formula One at the end of the 2001 season but returned to race for Mercedes in the DTM from 2005.

Hakkinen, who won 20 grands prix in his career, said he would continue to be involved with Mercedes off the track.


Story first published: Sunday, November 4, 2007, 7:32 [IST]
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