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Ex-F1 champion offers timeframe for McLaren recovery

With McLaren currently struggling for pace, their former driver Mika Hakkinen says the team needs a couple of years to be back up to speed.

Former World Champion Mika Hakkinen thinks McLaren will need 'a couple of years' before they can expect to be competitive again in F1. The Woking outfit completed the fewest laps of any team during the three days of pre-season testing last week, and have admitted that they failed to hit several development targets with this year's MCL60. "I don't think McLaren has very high expectations this year," Hakkinen told Unibet . "They know their development department and their sponsors and partners are world-class technology giants," added the Finn, who drove for McLaren between 1993 and 2001, winning 20 Grands Prix and two World Championship titles with the team. "McLaren have their support, but the team knows they aren't quite there yet. "There might be some results this year, but I think the true performance will be seen in a couple of years. They are in it for the long run and have good partners."

Hakkinen hails 'super talented' Norris

Hakkinen also reserved praise for Lando Norris, hailing the Briton as one of the top drivers currently competing in F1. "[Norris is] a very quick young driver. He's achieved a lot, or rather, he's shown convincing results constantly," said Hakkinen. "He's super talented, no question about it. He's on the same level as Leclerc, Verstappen and Sainz. He's on a very high level, speedwise. Lando is currently the number one driver at McLaren."

Norris and Piastri 'good sparring partners'

Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri made his Grand Prix debut on Sunday, after controversially leaving Alpine's academy in order to join McLaren this year, and Hakkinen said he and Norris make a good driver pairing. "[Piastri] was part of Alpine. They spent a lot of money to make him an Alpine driver one day, but he decided to go to McLaren instead," said Hakkinen. "But people wait for contracts. Contracts are what matter. There's no room for feelings. But anyway, I think [Piastri and Norris] make very good sparring partners. "They will probably be within tenths of each other. It will motivate the team to do better. For me, it's a positive package. "People like Zak Brown will give Piastri room to develop. "The team has incredible amounts of data they can use to help Piastri develop even further. "I don't think he'll have problems. It's a good place to grow. I don't think he'll feel pressure there."

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