Mika Hakkinen began his career in karting at the age of five and achieved success by winning regional and national championships. He built a brilliant racing career when he entered Formula Ford and Formula Three in Italy and the UK. After success in the series, Hakkinen entered Formula 1 in 1991 with Team Lotus, where he remained until 1992. The following year, he joined McLaren as a test pilot before being accepted into this racing team as a permanent member after Michael Andretti left.
After four years, which gave a slight impetus to the career of Mika Hakkinen, he first won the “Formula 1 ″ in 1997. He won eight races of the 1998 season, securing his team victory in the World Racing Championship, which ended in Japan. Hakkinen repeated his success at the 1999 World Cup, winning five times. He took second place in the Championship in 2000, giving the championship to Michael Schumacher, and achieved two more victories in 2001, before going on a long vacation, which in the middle of 2002 turned into a full pension.
However, later the “flying Finn” still returned. In 2005, he moved to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, where in the same year he won his first victory since leaving sports. In 2006, the driver went on vacation, but the next year he achieved two more victories. At the end of 2007, Mika Hakkinen left active motorsport at the highest level. He then became the brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker and Mercedes-Benz.
The future car racing champion was born on September 28, 1968 in Helsinkin-Maalayskant (now Vantaa), Finland, in the family of Harry, a radio operator and taxi driver, and Isla Hakkinen, who worked as a secretary. Hakkinen grew up with her sister, Nina, who later made a fan site for her brother, which closed in 1998. As a child, Hakkinen lived on the same street as Mika Salo, and later they became real friends. As a child, Hakkinen played hockey and soccer.
When the boy was five years old, the family of Mika Hakkinen rented a kart so that he could ride it near his house. On his first run, Hakkinen had an accident, but remained unscathed. Despite this accident, he wanted to continue to participate in races and eventually achieved this, despite the resistance of his parents. He later won his first go-kart race in 1975 at the Keimola Motor Stadium, where he participated in regional championships in 1978 and 1979, later winning the club championship in Keymola. Mika Hakkinen repeated his success on a large scale in 1980, winning the Swedish Lapland Cup and taking fourth place in the racing championship. Around the same time, for the first time in history, he brought the Volkswagen Beetle to the frozen lakes of Finland with his friend Mika Solberg.
Hakkinen made his first Formula 1 car trip with the Benetton team driving 90 laps around the Silverstone track and breaking Alessandro Nannini's previous record. It was difficult for him to fit into the Benetton team, but the Finn really liked his new car and, in particular, the throttle response. Hakkinen expected that he would not be offered a place in Benetton, so he decided to sign a contract with the Lotus team in the 1991 season.
Debuting in the United States along with teammate Julian Bailey, Hakkinen got thirteenth place in the tournament bracket and failed in the sixtieth round. The next race in Brazil allowed him to finish ninth, so he got his first Formula 1 points, finishing fifth in San Marino. Numerous early failures of the “flying Finn” at that time managed to give rise to the popular meme “Mika Hakkinen - the shame of the Finnish nation”. Prior to Canada, Bailey lost his place at Lotus due to lack of funding, so Mika partnered with Johnny Herbert and Michael Bartels for the remainder of the season.
Hakkinen remained at Lotus in 1992 and was a partner of Johnny Herbert. In the first round of the season in South Africa, he took ninth place, after which he received the first in a tournament in Mexico. He made another finish in Brazil, although he could not qualify for the Grand Prix in San Marino and could not participate in the next two races.
In Monaco, Lotus introduced its new Lotus 107. Hakkinen later collected extra points in the next two races before being temporarily disqualified at the German Grand Prix due to engine failure. A similar pattern followed in the next three races, but the streak of failures ended when he finished fifth in Portugal and temporarily dropped out on the penultimate round of the year in Japan. Hakkinen finished the season in Australia, finishing seventh in the tournament bracket.
In 1993, Hakkinen joined McLaren, initially as a racer, although he eventually became the team's official test pilot. In addition to regular test tasks, our hero took part in two races during the Porsche Supercup, where he began to play in the pole position and won two races. He was registered as a participant in Formula 1 after the Italian Grand Prix when Andretti left the championship.
Later, the Finn entered the Portuguese Grand Prix, where Ayrton Senna, an overtime full-time driver, finished . During the race, he retired due to a collision with a concrete wall. At the next race in Japan, Hakkinen announced the first podium of his career with third place and ended the season in Australia when he failed due to brake problems. Hakkinen finished the season, taking fifteenth place in the Championship, winning only 4 points. In December, McLaren confirmed that the rider will stay with the team for three years.
Mika remained at McLaren in 1994 and partnered with experienced pilot Martin Brandle. He survived a hot start: in the first two races of the season, Hakkinen dropped out of the competition because his car had problems with the engine at the Brazilian Grand Prix and experienced a gearbox failure at the Pacific Pacific Grand Prix. Later, he reached his first “winning” podium of the season at the San Marino Grand Prix, despite very significant setbacks in the first races.
Hakkinen remained in the McLaren team in 1995, when he was a partner of Nigel Mansell. During the pre-season competition, he and his teammate complained about the car, the McLaren MP4 / 10, which was not wide enough, as a result of which their hands and elbows rested against the walls of the cab. Mansell was forced to miss two rounds, so Hakkinen was a partner of Mark Blundell.
However, this year was not the most successful for Mika Hakkinen - the accident in 1995 greatly spoiled his health and career. But in the end, he still managed to cope with its consequences, until he retired for a long time in 2000.
Hakkinen is known for his unique driving style. Journalist Peter Windsor once wrote in F1 Racing magazine that he, the “flying Finn”, was always an “impatient” driver, and therefore preferred cars that glide well, gaining a significant advantage in medium-speed racing.
During a go-kart career, Hakkinen developed the skill of using the brake pedal with his left foot. He returned to using his right foot when he participated in the DTM, later discovering that he was uncomfortable with this style, and in mid-2006 he returned to braking on both legs. He became known as the “best racer of the end of the season”, because the second half of the season was more successful for him thanks to the experience gained earlier. He was also allowed to change the car according to his preference, although later he was often criticized for his choice.
Assessment and Recognition
During his career in Formula 1, Mika Hakkinen became known as a “silent” person, because in all the interviews he paused for a long time before answering the questions posed to him and practically did not tell the media. This allowed him to prevent the problems and potential scandals within his team from becoming public.
Since retiring, he has often been placed by the public and sports journalists on a par with the best Formula 1 drivers. As many athletes, including Michael Schumacher, noticed at one time, Mika Hakkinen was the driver with whom they liked to compete the most.
Hakkinen has been living in Monaco since 1991. He also owns real estate in France and Finland. On May 18, 2008, his recently completed mansion in France burned down in a fire due to a shorted wire. None of the people were injured, although the collection of trophies and Hakkinen's awards was destroyed.
In addition to motorsport, the renowned racer is engaged in skiing, swimming, tennis, diving and water skiing. There are many photos of Mika Hakkinen, where he is captured on skis, on the beach or with a tennis racket in his hands. His favorite musicians are Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and J. Karjalainen.
In 1998, Mika married his girlfriend Erica Honkanen, a former television journalist. The couple has children - a son and a daughter. The couple divorced in 2008. Hakkinen also has two daughters and a son from his Czech lover, Marketa Remesova.