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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen does not expect Mercedes to be fighting at the front of the field this season, explaining that the Brackley-based team's new car is slower than he had anticipated. Following the opening test at Jerez, the Finn instead expects Lewis Hamilton's former outfit, McLaren, to set the pace.
"I have a strong feeling that McLaren is in top form this year," Häkkinen said during an interview with the BBC on Tuesday. "As we saw at testing in Jerez, the Mercedes wasn't as fast as I expected them to be, so I don't see them competing too much this year."
Despite his initial thoughts on the 2013 pecking order, Häkkinen backed Hamilton's switch to Mercedes, arguing that it was a suitable moment for the 2008 World Champion to seek a new challenge.
"Lewis has been with McLaren for so many years and I think, for him, it was time to change," Häkkinen commented. "It's just a job to be honest. There are no emotional feelings about it, you are there to win, you are racing with the team and you do your maximum for the team. Lewis has now moved to Mercedes and that is going to be interesting because his team-mate Nico Rosberg is also a very quick driver."
Mercedes is approaching its fourth campaign since returning to the sport as a full works team in 2010. Courtesy of Rosberg's dominant weekend performance, the outfit managed to claim its first victory in 57 years at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix.
Mercedes Grand Prix
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