Mika Hakkinen

 
Mika Hakkinen joined an elite six-member club of champions who have won back-to-back Drivers’ titles after he won the 1999 Championship. |  At the 1998 Brazilian GP Hakkinen set 10 fastest laps and the pole position en route to winning the race. |  The Head And Neck Safety Device better known as HANS was developed after the Hakkinen crash and is used mandatorily even to this day. |  Häkkinen raced with McLaren for 9 years and won 20 races and two World Championships titles for the Woking-based team.

FACTFILE

Name: Mika Hakkinen
DOB: Sep 28 1968
Place Of Birth: Helsinki
Nationality: Finnish
Most Races For: McLaren - 131
No. Of Races: 161
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  • PROFILE
  • MILESTONES
PROFILE
Mika Hakkinen

Mika Häkkinen may always be remembered for his unassuming nature and his blonde-haired, green-eyed innocence. But he will be remembered more for his reputation as a silent Finnish ‘assassin’ who annihilated his contemporaries, to win back-to-back Drivers’ Championships. Only six men had achieved that feat before him including greats like Fangio, Ascari, Brabham, Prost, Senna and Schumacher.

Mika Pauli Häkkinen burst onto the F1 scene in 1991 when Peter Collins (then team principal of the Lotus F1 team) who was known for his knack of spotting talent, scooped him up for the 1991 season. Two average years later, the Finn switched to McLaren as a test driver, in the hope that it would yield him a race seat in the team that had won multiple championship titles. His hope turned into a reality, when he was given an opportunity to wear McLaren overalls and partner the great Ayrton Senna with three races left to go in the 1993 season. Häkkinen’s debut in the McLaren MP4/8 was dramatic at the South African Grand Prix, to say the least. Out-qualifying his teammate, the Finn looked set to win his first points for his new team. But a rush of over-enthusiasm caused him to make a costly error while trying to push his car too hard and he ran wide to end his race in the pit wall. In the very next GP at Suzuka, Häkkinen came back strong by achieving the first podium finish of his career.
In the following year, he collected 26 points thanks to six credible podium finishes; but seven retirements meant that he could not finish higher than a fourth place on the championship table.

The 1995 season shook the Finn and the F1 fraternity at large - albeit not due to his performances (he managed a best of only two second place finishes in the entire season) but because of a devastating accident that nearly ended his life. A tyre failure in the middle of a practice session for the Australian GP caused Häkkinen to veer away from the road violently hitting a tyre barrier in the process. Unfortunately for the Finn, as a result of the collision the G-forces made his head to bump around causing a severe rupture in his skull.

This happened just 18 months after the tragic death of Senna marking another grave accident that shook the sport yet again. After the crash, the FIA launched a frenzied research program to develop the best safety measures that would protect drivers from injuries caused during an impact.

Fortunately for the Finn, nothing worse happened thereafter and he was given another lease of life. To add to his fortunes, Australia happened to be the last race of the season and the McLaren racer had enough time to recuperate till the start of the next season. Despite losing his mobility and undergoing a very intensive recovery period, he managed to come back at the start of the 1996 season and continued to race like nothing had ever happened to him. He finished fifth in the standings with 31 points that year.

After a below par 1997 season that eluded him yet again of his maiden F1 victory, Häkkinen seemed to come into 1998 as a new man. He was determined, daring and furiously fast, thanks to a swift MP4/13. Despite a gripping battle with arch-rival Michael Schumacher, which saw the two racers locked on points with two races to go, the ‘Flying Finn’ was unflappable. He got going just when the going got tough and pulled out back-to-back wins in the final two GPs of the season to take the title with 100 points. Just for the record, he won back-to-back races for a remarkable four times in ‘98.

As McLaren’s first Drivers’ Champion after Senna in 1991, Häkkinen seemed to come into the 1999 season with a mountain of pressure on his shoulders as he prepared to defend his title. It showed in his driving as he made several crucial errors that nearly ruined his chances. One instance was the Italian GP that year, when he spun off the track, losing his race lead in the process. A distraught Häkkinen was so upset with himself that he later fell on his knees weeping at the side of track, ruing the error that he had committed. But he managed to pull himself together and came back to win the championship by just two points over second place man Eddie Irvine.

The start of the new millennium saw the formidable rise of Michael Schumacher and Häkkinen had to settle for second place at the end of the 2000 season. The 2001 season was the last of his career and it was as dramatic as his first. It began with a suspension failure in Australia that caused the Finn to crash out of the race. This incident was reminiscent of his 1995 crash at the same venue, although this time, it was a lot milder. But the déjà vu jitters did enough to get the racer thinking about his future in the sport. Four races later, whilst leading the grid on the Circuit de Catalunya en route to what could well have been his fourth consecutive Spanish GP triumph, Häkkinen’s car suffered a clutch failure and stalled on the very last lap of the race. Two isolated victories were all that peppered what turned out to be an insipid season by the standards of the “Flying Finn”.

 At the end of the 2001 season, he announced that he was going to take a sabbatical year to spend more time with his wife and child. Although his fans awaited his comeback eagerly the following year, Mika Häkkinen left them a tad disappointed as he made up his mind to quit the sport altogether, leaving behind a void in his team (and in the sport at large) that took some time to fill.

-Mamta Joseph


  • YEARS
  • TEAMS
  • ENGINES
  • GPs
  • CIRCUITS
STATISTICS
YEARS
YearTeamClaGPs WinsPolesPods FLsPts
1991Lotus15th1500002
1992Lotus8th15000011
1993McLaren15th300104
1994McLaren4th15006026
1995McLaren7th15002017
1996McLaren5th16004031
1997McLaren6th17113127
1998McLaren1st1689116100
1999McLaren1st1651110676
2000McLaren2nd174511989
2001McLaren5th16203337
Total 16120265125420

Mika Hakkinen - HEAD TO HEAD (TEAM-MATES)

Mika Hakkinen - Season Performance

According to stats...

  • Mika Hakkinen joined an elite six-member club of champions who have won back-to-back Drivers’ titles after he won the 1999 Championship.
  • At the 1998 Brazilian GP Hakkinen set 10 fastest laps and the pole position en route to winning the race.
  • The Head And Neck Safety Device better known as HANS was developed after the Hakkinen crash and is used mandatorily even to this day.
  • Häkkinen raced with McLaren for 9 years and won 20 races and two World Championships titles for the Woking-based team.

QUOTES ON MIKA HAKKINEN

“Formula One is a mind game, no question. You have to think so hard sometimes smoke comes out your ears! And if you don't keep your head in gear the car will overtake you”
-Hakkinen on the cerebral nature of the sport
"You can only get over your fears if you attack them head on," he said. "So I had to go driving again flat out."
-Mika Hakkinen



OTHER DRIVERS

Most successful drivers to have raced with Mika Hakkinen



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