There’s no doubt that Finland produced some of the greatest F1 Drivers. From Keke Rosberg who was the first Fin to take World Drivers’ Championship in 1982 to the current competitor Kimi Raikkonen who won the WDC in 2007. However, we will get to those crazy Fins sometime later.
Today I picked Mika Hakkinen as the for our F1 Friday driver. Besides being totally cool on the outside, he remains on the most consistent drivers on F1, ever.
Born on the 28th of September 1968 in Vantaa, Finland. Mika started out his driving adventures young, as he first got on the track at the age of 5 years old on a local track. However, things weren’t really fortunate for him as he managed to get into an accident on his first lap. However, despite the accident, he kept on persisting that he wanted to continue racing. And so, his adventures began after he recieved his first go-kart
Hakkinen was already begging to climb the ladder of fame by 1986, as he had won five karting championships. Dubbed the Flying Finn by the Scandinavian Media, he won 3 Scandinavian Championships and the Opel Lotus Euroseries Championship in 1988 before finally winning the 1990 British F3 Championships. It was also in 1990 that he the notable encounter with the infamous German, Michael Schumacher. In the Macau GP, he was running second place behind Schumacher, as he tried to pass him, they both touched, and that resulted in Hakkinen being put of the race.
However that was only determination for the Flying Finn, as he made his F1 debut with Lotus the following year. He started out with a very strong preformance in the Phoenix Grand Prix before he struggled with engine failure. He continued on the season finishing at joint 15th position. However the season wasn’t as he hoped it would be as he was plagued with mechanical issues. The following season was pretty similiar, which resulted in Hakkinen retiring from more than 1/3 of his races, which eventually lead to his switch to McLaren in 1993.
After the switch and having to have had prove himself to step up from being the test driver, he out-qualified his team mate Ayrton Senna in his debut in Portugal, who was by that time a 3 time world championship. After Ayrton leaving McLaren for Williams, Mika had become lead driver for Team McLaren.
In 1995, he had a disastrous crash at the practice in the Australian GP, having had a tyre failure in the first qualifying session. Which led to him heavily crashing in the walls of the circuit. The crash resulted in him having a skull fracture, heavy internal bleeding, and the impact of the crash lead to him swallowing his tongue, and his life was saved by an emergency tracheotomy (fancy word for having your throat cut and having a tube inserted to help you breathe). Despite the serious injuries he sustained, he made a full recovery and returned to the after track 87 days. He got back on his ’95 McLaren MP4/10 in the Le Castellet circuit in France.
He continued proving himself and growing stronger on the track and it all game together in 1998. He have won the 1998 season opener in the Australian GP and he continued battling Michael Schumacher to finally push him off the edge and being led to be crowned World Champion in the final round in the Japanese Grand Prix. In 1999, his season was a success as he managed to maintain his World Championship title, being the first Fin to ever win back-to-back titles.
After his successful runs, he began to decline in performance, until he finally left the sport in 2001.
“I’ve been through so much in my career in F1, particularly in 1995, and I did achieve so much that I thought it’s not worth it any more to push your luck further.”
“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”
Some videos on Mika: