At the season finale of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup set on November 13 in Zhuhai (China), former Formula One and DTM driver Mika Häkkinen will be joining the race – his first time within four years. For this six-hour race, Häkkinen will be behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.
Joining him in this race are 2010 Mercedes-Benz DTM driver CongFu Cheng and Lance David Arnold of Germany. Häkkinen has been making appearances as Mercedes-Benz’s brand ambassador but this is the first time for the gullwing SLS to race in China. An independent team, Customer AMG Sports Team China, has entered this car to the race.
The last time that Häkkinen raced was on Oct. 14, 2007, in the DTM season finale at Hockenheim. He was driving an AMG Mercedes C-Class. From 2005-2007 when Häkkinen competed in 31 DTM races for Mercedes-Benz, he won three times and achieved three pole positions and eight podium finishes. From 1991 to 2001, Häkkinen raced in 161 Grands Prix.
He then signed with McLaren-Mercedes in 1995. While Häkkinen was behind the wheel of the Silver Arrow, he was the world champion of the Formula One two times in 1998 and 1999. In addition, he was the winner of 20 Grand Prix races, attained 26 pole positions, and recorded 44 podium finishes (totaling 51 overall).
The longest team-mate partnership ever in Formula One was that of Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard, who drives the Deutsche Post AMG Mercedes C-Class in the 2011 DTM season. Häkkinen and Coulthard were partners from 1996 to 2001.
The front end of the GT3 race car is distinguished by a new front skirt with enlarged air intakes as well as by the large Mercedes star mounted on the radiator grille. Air for the engine oil cooler and brake discs is supplied by the wide opening beneath this grille and the wing-shaped horizontal fins supplies, as well as by the two intakes located below the vertical bi-xenon headlamps.
Four externally mounted side flics as well as a carbon front splitter -- connected to the rear diffuser by the smooth underbody panel – provide the necessary downforce for front axle of the GT3 car. Heat emanating from the engine exits through the central opening on the hood, while side openings in the front fenders help aids the air flow through the wheel arches.
To save weight, the side and rear windows are made from lightweight polycarbonate materials, which, depending on customer wishes, could also be specified for the front windshield. Meanwhile, at 78.3 inches, the GT3 bodyshell is around two inches wider than the series production Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
Its front and rear fenders have been made wider to accommodate the GT3’s large racing tires. The car features new sills with openings that helps cool the rear brakes. The car’s underbody could be seen along the underside of these sills. Meanwhile, the GT3’s 31.7 gallon fuel tank has been placed centrally behind the driver while the standardized fuel tank adapter for the rapid refueling system has been contained in the B-pillar.