Mika Häkkinen

Just realised that this truly great world champion doesn't have his own thread, and thought he deserved one!

Been the orignal flying Finn Mika Hakkinen was a two time F1 Drivers Champion. He was one of the main reasons i got into F1 and decided to follow DTM.

Mika started his F1 career at at Team Lotus at the United States GP way back in 1991. That year at the San Marino GP he picked up his first points in F1. In 1992 Hakkinen continued on at Team Lotus and was partnered alongside British Driver Johnny Herbert.

In 1993 Hakkinen joined Mclaren as a reserve/test driver, after Michael Andretti was sacked for poor results Hakkinen was promoted to full time driver, at Estroli where he out-qualified the late great Ayrton Senna.

In 1994 Hakkinen began his first full season with the team and went on to drive for Mclaren until the end of 2001.

Hakkinen's first F1 Grand Prix win came at the European GP in 1997, the season after that Hakkinen went on to win his first of two WDC championships.

In 1999, Hakkinen then went on to win his second title and became the first Finn to ever claim back to back titles.

In 2001, after 10 years in F1 Hakkinen choose to hang up his driving gloves and retire from F1 as a 2 times world champion and a winner of 20 Grand Prix races.

In 2005 after nearly 4 years out of motorsport Mika Hakkinen then came out of retirement and joined the German touring car championship DTM. Where he finished 5th, 6th and 8th in the 3 seasons he took part in with Mercedes.

Well now he's back and he's decided to go racing for Mercedes yet again this time in the GT class racing an SLS.

But for me i'll always believe he retired from F1 way to early and really and could have won one more World Championship.

Really looking forward to seeing him race in the GT series next year and will be watching it closely.
Still haven't got over it :(

He may have retired too early but maybe he saw what was about to come and thought better than to play catch up to Schumi.

That said, I felt he just lost the love for Formula One and when Kimi came calling he couldn't return to a winning team - well, Williams had 2 drivers tied up and he was never going to join Ferrari was he? :)
Mika one of my favorites, and the pass that he made at Spa on Schumacher, was one that many will never forget!

He very nearly joined Williams in 2004, and after spending 2006 testing with McLaren was also mooted for the second seat alongside Alonso, but then Ron Dennis decided to go with one WDC and a rookie.
It's strange how different people get a different impression of a driver. Maybe it's his personality or my perception of him but I never saw him as a Champion in waiting before his first win (which was very "organised" by Ron Dennis) and his two World Championships are just pages in history rather than "Wow, wasn't Mika a great driver". I always got the feeling he won them because no one else could be bothered.

The record books show he took 26 poles, 20 race wins and 2 World Championships but, hand on heart, I don't have any memory of any one of those wins. I do have lots of mental images of his uber dull post race interviews however. His interview style makes Kimi seem exciting.
I would agree that there wasn't too much in Mika's early F1 career to mark him out as someone special, although his F3 campaign was very successful. At Lotus he and Herbert were much of a muchness really.

Once he got a winning car, though, he certainly made the most of it, and I'd say his peaks were higher than most - certainly all of the time except Schumacher. In qualifying particularly he was outstanding.

What we saw in 2001 was that it all came down to motivation. In a winning car Mika could produce the goods, but in a difficult one he was struggling to maintain his interest. Obviously the major accident he had at Melbourne in his final season affected his view of what he was doing as well, inevitably bringing back memories of Adelaide '95.

I once read a story from one of his Lotus engineers. They were racing in Budapest in 1991, and Hakkinen was tooling along steadily late in the race, more or less in last position. Senna was, typically, dominating from the front, and came up to lap Mika for the second or third time that day. Once he'd let him through, however, Hakkinen's lap times suddenly dropped hugely, and the team realised he was following Ayrton, trying to keep up with him! Needless to say, they'd have appreciated that level of effort from lap one...
One of the many drivers to excel in the task of making David Coulthard look stupid.

2001 was just a bad year for him - ten years after the 1998 WDC had a bad year in 2001, the 2008 WDC had a bad year in 2011. Still wouldn't have ruled him out in 2003...
It's strange how different people get a different impression of a driver. Maybe it's his personality or my perception of him but I never saw him as a Champion in waiting before his first win (which was very "organised" by Ron Dennis) and his two World Championships are just pages in history rather than "Wow, wasn't Mika a great driver". I always got the feeling he won them because no one else could be bothered.

The record books show he took 26 poles, 20 race wins and 2 World Championships but, hand on heart, I don't have any memory of any one of those wins. I do have lots of mental images of his uber dull post race interviews however. His interview style makes Kimi seem exciting.

IMO he's at least funnier than Kimi.
Personally, I liked him a lot, however, I cannot help thinking his achievements may be a little flattering. in 1998, in the first race, the McLarens were line astern for the whole race, and lapped the field. It was only a seriously impressive effort from Michael Schumacher which kept the season interesting. As for 1999, Heinz Harald Frentzen and Eddie Irvine had a chance at the WDC!!

He was definitely top drawer, but I think of him in the same mould as Hill, rather than Senna.

He is, however, a driver that I have actually met, when he was racing for WSR in the F3 series, my friends dad was racing at Oulton Park, and the F3 circus was also on the race program. He was a really nice guy, and chatted for a short while. I also recall a few really superb races with Allan McNish.

I also admire his mental strength, in coming back from his accident to win 2 wdc, that takes some serious mental stength, guts, determination, balls and several other superlatives, and is one of the reasons why he is one of my faves from the past.
I always thought Hakkinen was great when I started watching in '98. However, my view is somewhat changing. Like the pits said, his achivements are somewhat flattering. He became Ron Dennis' number 1 as early as Jerez '97, I don't like the way Hakkinen won that race, I think must have dented Coulthards confidence. He then had a brilliant car in '98 and I am surprised on how Schumacher took the '97 and '98 championship to the final race. Above all that the '99 season was somewhat poor, he should have had the title wrapped up quite earlier than he did.

I remember watching the '99 Nurburgring gp, Hakkinen got he wrong call for the tyres so was at te back of the field around 8th (lot of cars dropped out) Hakkinen pace was so poor and he seemed uninterested, then another car dropped out and Hakkinen was promoted to 7th. Irvine was in 6th for the last championship point, Hakkinen must have got the call on the radio to fight for the point, and all of a sudden he was the fastest man on the circuit, he eventually passed Eddie Irvine, and I remember many being angry at Hakkinen for this, also remember Martin Brundle in commentray saying Hakkinen didn't deserve that point, and what do you know it was the point that won him the championship.

He was quite funny in interviews, but I found some being arrogant. I quite like the guy, but I think his battles with Schumacher have helped his status.

I enjoy seeing him getting interviewed when he's at grand prixs, nice guy, good driver. :)
Here is an interesting article written by Brundle on the subject of Hakkinen, Schumacher and Senna as his teammates of his: http://chrislovescapetown.blogspot.com/2009/04/schumacher-vs-hakkinen-by-brundle.html

It was written after the 2000 F1 championship. He seems to think they were more evenly matched than some here believe.


If Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen were in the same Formula 1 team, with the same equipment, during qualifying, in the dry, and you asked me to stake my kids' building society accounts on who would bag pole, I'd put my money on Mika.

But Michael would win the race.
The key there is, "I'd put my money on Mika to get pole" "but Mochael would win the race".

Qualifying and the race are two different things, Hakkinen was always exceptional in his McLaren days to pip Schumacher to pole.
I don't think you quite got the point there Sly. Brundle didn't mean the context of a race but in the context of a season or career. Whilst Mika would either be so superlatively fast that he'd win or crash (or be so disinterested that he'd be fighting off backmarkers), Scumi would always know when enough was enough and play the percentage game to stay in the competition. Kind of similar to Hamilton vs Button or Alonso in my opinion. All out speed vs strategic racing. Depending on one's own preferences you'll pick one over the other.

Please correct me if I've misinterpreted your words.
I remember Hakkinen battling Salo back in British F3 1990 they dominated the championship between them

Then he came into F1 with Lotus and was outpaced by Johnny Herbert in 1992 but had more reliability and finished ahead in the championship

I was surprised to hear Mclaren were interested in him and he signed the contract without guarantee that he will get a race seat when Senna was still doing a deal in the background. He spent the whole season being test driver which may have been a God send as Andretti was woeful and backed by the fact Michael wanted to spend Christmas at home rather than test and travelling to races from America rather than with the team

Mike caught my attention when he outqualified Senna in his first race after Andretti left and thought "Wow"

A podium in Japan

1994 was always going to be difficult for him and Mclaren with new partners Peugeot and post Senna era.

There were times when Mika was fast but also accident prone...he was adjudged at fault for the wild spin across everyone at Hockenheim and banned for 1 race

But there were podiums when he finished alongside numerous engine failures from Peugeot

1995 was just as tough with Mercedes engine again the speed was there but often blighted by reliability of the Mercedes engine and the gearbox plus one or two accidents. It was sickening sight his crash in Australia
I remember at the time Martin Brundle in BBC grand prix magazine accessed some leading contenders at the time in one column whilst still as a driver

Hill/ Schumacher/ Alesi/ Berger/ Barrichello and Hakkinen

His comment about Hakkinen then was he was extremely fast lacking a few essential ingredients compared to more detail viewed on

Schumacher - gifted and could see he was a rare talent and something special
Hill - a grafter like his dad but not quite as natural as Schumacher
Alesi - brilliant car control but too emotional at times and you wonder which Alesi shows up - the superlative one in the race or the one that spins off the kerb or runs into backmarkers. He was a better racer than Berger

Berger - the man who's been there and seen it all. A good qualifier compared to Alesi but has a knack of having some awful races that makes you wonder what he is doing but he was a clever political player because of his reputation

So really Brundle then could not see Hakkinen as world champion which was fair enough

1996 DC proved a decent match for him although MIka got the better results in the 2nd half of the season with a string of podiums.

1997 early season Mclaren were a bit up and down but Mika came alive once Newey joined Mclaren mid season and he started getting quicker to the front and challenging for wins and poles and only to be let down by the Mercedes engine in Silverstone, Austria and the Ring.

However his teammate DC although not as fast in quali was just as impressive with 2 wins and some impressive missile starts where he gained places. So it was somewhat disappointing to see DC being ordered to let Mika through at Jerez to win so to speak as DC finished ahead of Hakkinen in the championship which people seem to forget
1998 -1999 Newey designs a super fast Mclaren which Hakkinen now having got his win shows his real speed with Senna esque poles

But things could have been so different if DC did not let him through in Australia due to a pre race agreement after Hakkinen came in for a phantom stop and suddenly had the red mist and drove like a demon lapping up to 4 seconds faster than the rest of the field
That win set the stall out for Hakkinen as DC never really recovered. The controversial SIlverstone win for Schumacher followed by some poor races for Hakkinen - Hungary, Spa, Monza where he managed only 4 pts suddenly put him under pressure.

He responded brilliantly with a champion like drive in Nurburgring in beating Schumacher and consolidated in Japan after Schumacher's race was ruined before it started....
The 4 pts he was ahead by going into the last race came from DC letting him through in Melbourne which proved crucial

1999 pole was his by default having the fastest car although his 2nd championship was somewhat marred by Schumacher being out mid season and many expected Hakkinen to sewn up the title easily.

However it seems like he and Mclaren seem to find ways of chucking the title away with tyre problem in Silverstone and a blown tyre in Hockenheim.

Then two clashes with DC in Austria and Spa left Mika unhappy. He was not impressed that Ron did not tell DC to move over in Spa and spent the whole race sulking in 2nd place

The most telling moment was Monza when he crashed whilst leading and was crying behind the bushes which showed the strain he was under. This was on top of throwing the lead away in Imola earlier in the season as well whilst leading

An indifferent race in Nurburgring where he gave up due to some poor pit stop calls and only to be helped by Ferrari's missing tyre blunder allowed him to charge through to take the points.

Able to get himself together to win the championship in Japan helped by Ferrari's reluctance to help Irvine capped an emotional year as it was a good year but not without its dramas
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