|Born||28 September 1968|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|First Grand Prix||1991 United States Grand Prix|
|Entries||165 (161 starts)|
|Drivers' Championships||2 (1998, 1999)|
|Final Grand Prix||2001 Japanese Grand Prix|
Mika Pauli Häkkinen (born 28 September 1968 in Vantaa in the Helsinki metropolitan area) is a Finnish racing driver and two-time Formula One World Champion. Seven-time world champion and rival Michael Schumacher said Häkkinen is the man he respected the most during his Formula One career.
When Häkkinen was five years old, his parents hired a go-kart for him to take to a track near their home. On his first lap, Häkkinen was involved in an accident, escaping unhurt. Despite this crash, Häkkinen wished to continue racing and after persistently annoying his parents, the young Finn got his wish. His father bought Häkkinen his first go-kart, one that Henri Toivonen had previously competed with.
By 1986, Häkkinen had won five karting championships. 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg helped Häkkinen by arranging him sponsorship that aided the Finn through the junior categories of open wheel racing. The "New Flying Finn" won three Scandinavian championships, then in 1988 the Opel Lotus Euroseries championship before winning the 1990 British Formula Three championship. During the late 1980s he was living in England and sharing a house with West Surrey Racing team mate Allan McNish. Häkkinen was close to winning the 1990 Macau Grand Prix but missed out due to a controversial accident with Michael Schumacher, which resulted in his promotion to Formula One with Team Lotus.
Häkkinen joined Lotus in 1991. He qualified 13th for his Grand Prix debut in Phoenix, and would also have finished the race in the same position but his car experienced an engine failure on lap 60. Häkkinen scored his first Grand Prix points two rounds later in Imola, where he finished fifth from 25th on the grid, three laps behind the race winner, Ayrton Senna. Häkkinen finished the season in equal 15th alongside Satoru Nakajima and Martin Brundle.
Johnny Herbert joined Häkkinen for 1992. The Finn continued his form from 1991, with points scoring finishes in six Grands Prix, his best finishes being fourth places in France and Hungary. Häkkinen finished the season in eighth place in the Drivers' Championship, with almost six times as many points as during the previous season.
In 1993, Häkkinen joined McLaren as test driver with a view to be promoted into the race team later on. In Monaco he returned to racing with a guest drive in the Porsche Supercup race, an event he dominated. His hopes of stepping up to the race team were realised after Monza, when Michael Andretti left F1 after disappointing results. Häkkinen's McLaren race debut at Estoril was impressive. In his first outing for the team, he outqualified their star driver Ayrton Senna. Unfortunately, when pushing too hard through the final corner of the track during the race, he ran wide onto the dirty side of the kerb, launching the car towards the pit wall. At the time he was running in a point-scoring position. He went on to score a podium finish fifteen seconds behind his triple world champion team-mate during the next weekend at Suzuka, his first career podium.
During 1993, Häkkinen, along with Senna, tested the Lamborghini V12 engine in a modified version of the McLaren MP4/8 race car dubbed the "MP4/8B" at both Estoril and Silverstone. Both drivers were impressed with the engine, with Häkkinen reportedly lapping Silverstone some 1.4 seconds faster in the MP4/8B with its V12 engine than he had with the team's race car fitted with the Ford V8.
With Senna departing to Williams for 1994, Häkkinen became the leading driver for McLaren with Martin Brundle as his teammate. McLaren had also switched from Ford engines to Peugeot. During the season, Häkkinen took six more podium finishes to add to his sole podium of 1993, including a second place in Belgium. The Finn finished the year fourth in the Drivers' Championship with a tally of 26 points.
1995 would be the start of a long relationship between Häkkinen's McLaren team and the German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. Before the season began, Häkkinen and team-mate Nigel Mansell had complained the new car had been too small for them to fit in and they suffered from their hands and elbows bashing on the sides of the cockpit
A further two second places in Italy and Japan put the Finn's tally of podiums up to nine. Häkkinen missed the Pacific Grand Prix at Aida due to an appendix operation. But then, at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, he suffered a tyre failure during free practice, which resulted in him crashing heavily into the wall. He was critically injured in the crash (sustaining a skull fracture, internal bleeding and swallowing his tongue, of which the latter blocked his airway) and was saved only due to an emergency tracheotomy that was performed by the side of the track by Sid Watkins. This incident forged a strong bond between Häkkinen and team principal Ron Dennis, and also sent forth a new movement for extra safety in the sport. Luckily, Häkkinen recovered fully and was fit to race again in 1996, thus only missing one race. Häkkinen climbed back into a Formula One car at Paul Ricard three months after the accident.
The 1996 season saw McLaren improve; Mercedes-Benz were in their second season of supplying engines to the team and Häkkinen managed to return to the podium, although his first win still eluded him. That season saw David Coulthard join the team from Williams. At the Spa circuit he nearly registered his first win while using a one stop race strategy, until Jos Verstappen's accident allowed all other cars to pit under the safety car. Based on timing, Häkkinen would have won the race by over 10 seconds without this event. Häkkinen finished fifth in the Drivers' Championship, scoring a total of 31 points.
McLaren were confident of success in 1997. With the distinctive red and white colours of Marlboro replaced by the silver and black colours of West, the team returned to their winning ways. Coulthard took the first win for McLaren in over three seasons at the Australian Grand Prix. Through the year the McLarens began to regularly challenge the frontrunners, but it was Coulthard who finished higher in the championship. Häkkinen came close to an elusive breakthrough victory a number of times in 1997, not least at Silverstone, A1-Ring and Nürburgring. At Jerez he finally crossed the line first, although after teammate Coulthard had been asked to move over for him and title contender Jacques Villeneuve, nursing a damaged car, was asked by his team to consider letting him through.
The 1998 season was the turning point for Häkkinen. The McLaren MP4/13 was the first car designed by Adrian Newey, the aerodynamicist who had the merit of having designed the best car when he was with the Williams team. Häkkinen and McLaren finally had a more than competitive, thanks to the passage from the Goodyear tire supplier Bridgestone most effective. The Finn managed with 8 wins and 13 placings in the points in 16 races to win the title of World Champion made over 100 points, ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher with 86. In addition, he started from pole position nine times.
The year began with Häkkinen winning the first four of six rounds. However, in the next three races, Schumacher won the next three allowing him to close the championship gap to Häkkinen in the drivers' standings. Häkkinen, then won in Austria and Germany. In Hungary and Belgium, however, only one point though Schumacher took advantage of fully because he won only in the Hungarian Grand Prix and at Spa while he was leading he made contact with David Coulthard. At Monza, Schumacher and Häkkinen were imposed only finished fourth due to a gearbox problem. At this point in the season the two contenders were in the top of the standings with 80 points, with only 2 races left. Schumacher took pole at the Nurburgring with Häkkinen taking victory. Häkkinen and Schumacher arrived at Suzuka with the title still up for grabs though Häkkinen was clearly favored by the superiority of the Mclaren while the Ferrari had developed during the course of the championship. In the last race of the season, Häkkinen won again with an unfortunate Schumacher who took pole position was forced to start from the back of the grid due to a problem encountered on his warm-up lap and had made a good recovery in the race before a puncture forced him to retire. Häkkinen then won the race and his first world title.
The MP4/14, once again designed from the pencil of Newey, was also a competitive car capable of fighting for the victory, though more fragile than its predecessor. The climb to the World Title was more difficult than in 1998. The year did not start in the best way for Mika who had to retire in the first Grand Prix in Melbourne. The first victory of the season, however, was not long in coming at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but the Finn crashed out of the next race at Imola. Häkkinen finished third in Monaco, and took back-to-back wins Barcelona and in Canada. This was followed by a second place in France and a retirement at Silverstone where title rival Schumacher suffered a serious accident.
Häkkinen then came third in Austria after contact at the start with his team mate. During the German Grand Prix, it was announced that Häkkinen would remain at McLaren for 2000. Häkkinen encountered further bad fortunes in the race when his car's right rear tyre exploded at high speed, forcing his car into a 360° spin before resting on a tyre wall. Häkkinen won in Budapest and then was second at Spa behind Coulthard. He finished fifth in Europe and third in Malaysia. At the season finale held in Japan, Häkkinen took victory, almost an entire lap ahead of title rival Irvine with Schumacher a close second. This ensured he took enough points to clinch the 1999 World Championship, with 76 points, ahead Eddie Irvine.
For 2000, Häkkinen set himself new limits along with physical and psychological preparations for the upcoming season. He endured a bad start: At the opening round in Australia, both McLaren cars retired with engine failure after completing less than half of the race distance; and in the following race in Brazil, Häkkinen was forced into retirement when his car's oil pressure became problematic. However, this marked a turning point as Häkkinen took consecutive second-place finishes in the next two rounds, and later clinched his first victory of the season in Spain.
Häkkinen finished in second position at the European Grand Prix, having traded the lead position with Schumacher throughout the race. He followed up the result by taking sixth place at Monaco, fourth in Canada and a podium finish with second position in France. The day after the French Grand Prix, it was announced that Häkkinen would remain at McLaren for 2001. Häkkinen won the following race in Austria, although his team were stripped of constructors' points due to a missing seal on the electronic control unit in Häkkinen's car. He took another podium finish with a second place in Germany, and later clinched victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he took the lead of the World Drivers' Championship from Schumacher.
Häkkinen clinched his second consecutive victory in Belgium, which included a simultaneous pass on Michael Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta in the Kemmel straight. Häkkinen later took second place in Italy, and rounded off the year with a second place in Japan where he conceded the World Championship to Schumacher, followed by fourth position in the season closing race held in Malaysia.
In 2001, Häkkinen took part in what would prove to be his last season of Formula One. The MP4-16 was not as competitive and it was Coulthard who carried the threat to Schumacher for much of the season. The season started badly for Häkkinen: He was forced into retirement in the opening round held in Australia due to a failure with his car's suspension resulting in his car spinning violently into a tyre barrier. There were days however when Häkkinen reminded people of his skills. In Spain he was in the lead on the last lap, looking to record his fourth straight Spanish victory but he had a clutch failure and was forced to retire, just five corners away from victory. Häkkinen, stranded, was later fetched by Coulthard in the other McLaren, with Häkkinen sitting at the side of the car, back to the pit. At the race held in Canada, Häkkinen took his first podium of the season with a third-place finish. He then clinched sixth place at the European Grand Prix, but was unable to start the French Grand Prix as his car developed a gearbox problem.
However, this marked a brief turning point for Häkkinen as he managed to clinch his first victory of the year at the British Grand Prix. Before the Italian Grand Prix, Häkkinen announced that he would be taking a sabbatical, citing the reason to spend more time with his family and his seat was taken by fellow countryman Kimi Räikkönen in 2002. Häkkinen later stated that fear after crashes during practice for the 1995 Australian Grand Prix and the 2001 Australian Grand Prix as well as a loss of a desire to compete for race victories were factors. He was forced into another retirement during the race due to a gearbox issue. He managed to clinch the final victory of his career in the United States despite incurring a grid penalty, and ended the season with a fourth-place finish in Japan. Häkkinen finished the season 5th in the Drivers' Championship, with 37 points.
In July 2002, Häkkinen announced that he would be retiring from Formula One nine months into his sabbatical. In December 2002, it was announced that Häkkinen would be participating in the Finnish Rally Championship driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2. During 2004, rumors circulated that Häkkinen was making a possible return to Formula One to fill in the vacant Williams seat left by Juan Pablo Montoya. In May, McLaren team principal Ron Dennis dismissed the rumors, stating that Häkkinen was not prepared for a comeback. Häkkinen held talks with BAR and Williams and later decided against returning to Formula One.
On 6 November 2004, it was announced that Häkkinen would make his début in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series for the HWA Team in the 2005 season. Häkkinen finished the season fifth in the Drivers' Championship, with 30 points and one win. On 15 November 2005, it was announced that Häkkinen would remain with HWA for the 2006 season which he finished in 6th place with 25 points. Häkkinen finished the 2007 season 7th place in the Championship, with 22 points and later announced his retirement from competitive motorsport in November 2007.
Complete Formula One ResultsEdit
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)