|Years||1991 - 2001|
|First race||1991 United States Grand Prix|
|Last win||2001 United States Grand Prix|
|Last race||2001 Japanese Grand Prix|
Mika Pauli Häkkinen (born September 28, 1968 in Helsingin maalaiskunta) is a Finnish racing driver and two-time Formula One champion. He was Michael Schumacher's greatest rival in F1. The German has said himself that Häkkinen is the rival he respected the most during his Formula One career.
- 1 Personal and early life
- 2 Racing career
- 3 Possible return to F1
- 4 Retirement
- 5 Career summary
- 6 Complete Formula One results
- 7 Other interests
- 8 External links
Personal and early life
Mika Häkkinen was born in Helsingin maalaiskunta (now Vantaa), Finland on September 28, 1968 to Harri, a short wave radio operator and part-time taxi driver, and Aila Häkkinen, who worked as a secretary. Häkkinen grew up with one sister, Nina, who ran a fan site for her brother until its closure in 1998. Häkkinen married Erja Honkanen in 1998. The couple has one son, Hugo Ronan (born December 11, 2000) and one daughter, Aina Julia (born May 12, 2005). Media reports in early 2008 suggested the couple were applying for divorce. Since 1991, Häkkinen has resided in Monte Carlo although he also has houses in France and Finland. On May 18 2008, his newly completed mansion in France burnt down after the light in one of his trophy cabinets made a short circuit. Nobody was injured in the conflagration. However his pet tortoise perished in the fire, along with his collection of F1 trophies.
Pre-Formula One (until 1990)
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 the Opel Lotus Euroseries championship before winning the British Formula Three championship and coming close to winning the 1990 Macau Grand Prix but missing out due to an accident, which resulted in his promotion to Formula One with the Lotus team.
Formula One (1991-2001)
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.
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. A further two second places in Italy and Japan put the Finn's tally of podiums up to nine. Then, at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide, Häkkinen had a tyre failure during free practice, which resulted in him crashing heavily into the wall. He was saved only due to an emergency tracheotomy that was performed by the side of the track. 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 almost fully and was fit to race again in 1996 thus only missing one race.
The 1996 season saw McLaren improve; Mercedes-Benz were in their second season of engine supply 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 caused a yellow flag to allow all other cars to pit under yellow. 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 managed to cross the line first, although Villeneuve had allegedly been asked to consider whether it was necessary to keep the Finn behind him at all costs in the closing stages of the race, this being due to the incident with Michael Schumacher in the closing stages of the race - an incident similar to the one in 1994's final race.
A winner at last, Häkkinen was confident of further success in 1998. With Adrian Newey, the renowned former Williams-Renault designer, now on board at McLaren, Häkkinen found himself in the fastest car for early 1998 season.Template:Fact He did not waste the opportunity, and opened up a significant lead in the Drivers' Championship. However, a combination of car problems, bad luck and some inspired driving by Michael Schumacher saw the 2 drivers level on points with just 2 races to go. Häkkinen held his nerve, beating Schumacher in a straight fight at the Luxembourg Grand Prix and going on to win again in Japan, clinching the title whilst his rival Schumacher stalled on the grid.
His title defence in 1999 was tougher. With the McLaren not as reliable as the previous year, he lost out on a number of points early in the season, but by the time of Schumacher's leg-breaking crash at Silverstone, he had overtaken the German in the standings. Eddie Irvine now took on the mantle of Ferrari team leader and through reliability problems with the McLaren, and mistakes from Häkkinen, took the title battle down to the last race, again in Japan. Häkkinen had made several major errors at Imola and Monza, both times crashing out whilst in a strong lead, and some questioned whether he could handle the pressure of a title decider once more. In fact, the normally cool and composed Finn was overwhelmed by his error at Monza and broke down crying in front of the cameras after running away from his car to hide during the race. Come Japan however, he was back on top form and romped to a victory that secured him a second world championship, almost an entire lap ahead of title rival Irvine with Schumacher a close second.
As a double World Champion, he had joined an elite group of drivers. For the 2000 season, he was eager to score a hat-trick of crowns, but after a season-long contest, finished 19 points behind Ferrari's Schumacher. At Spa however, he took a memorable victory, with a simultaneous pass on Michael Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta in the Kemmel straight. At the next Grand Prix Schumacher took over the Championship lead, and went on to confirm his third world championship at the Japanese Grand Prix, the penultimate race of the season. Schumacher has described his championship fight with Häkkinen as the most satisfying of his career.
In 2001, he took part in what would prove to be his last season of Formula One. The McLaren was not as competitive and it was Coulthard who carried the threat to Schumacher for much of the season. Furthermore, Hakkinen suffered a sizeable crash at the opening race in Australia at Melbourne while running second due to a suspected brake failure. The accident seemed to have hindered his motivation rather considerably. There were days however when Häkkinen reminded people of his skills. In Spain he was in the lead on the last lap to record his fourth straight Spanish Grand Prix victory but he had a clutch failure and was forced to retire yards away from victory. At Silverstone he dominated the race to take his first victory of the year, whilst at Indianapolis he put in a stirring drive to take his last Grand Prix win. At the end of the season he left racing, initially for a sabbatical, but by mid-2002 this had become full-time retirement. 
During 2004 Häkkinen announced plans for a Grand Prix comeback and held talks with Williams for 2005. A deal was not reached and he instead made a race comeback in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), with Mercedes-Benz. It was a successful season, including one win at Spa.
For 2006 he again competed in the DTM championships with Mercedes, although it was a more difficult season, with a couple of second places his best results. Autosport magazine has speculated that Häkkinen's style of driving is not especially suited to a DTM car.
At the 2006 Goodwood Festival Of Speed, Häkkinen drove the 2005 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20. Many said that it was great once again to see Häkkinen in a McLaren, as he was the last driver (at that time) to win the World Championship in a McLaren.
Häkkinen would stay on at Mercedes for a third season in the series and, although this was tainted by some bad luck in places, 2007 was to be his most competitive. Regularly qualifying on the front row, he took two wins at Lausitz and Mugello on his way to 8th in the championship.
Possible return to F1
After Häkkinen's sabbatical year and subsequent retirement, rumours of his return have been reported on several occasions. Häkkinen was linked to Williams during the 2004 season, because of Montoya going to McLaren-Mercedes following year.
At the end of the 2006 season there were further rumours regarding Häkkinen returning to the wheel of a McLaren-Mercedes for the 2007 season. Autosport magazine reported that Häkkinen had tested a McLaren simulator twice during November and discussed a possible comeback with the team. On November 24 McLaren announced that Lewis Hamilton would take the team's second seat in 2007, ending the speculation of a possible return to a Formula One drivers seat. However, Häkkinen may still participate in an advisory role with Ron Dennis stating that "Mika can evaluate some of the things we are developing and bringing to the car." On Thursday, November 30, Häkkinen tested the 2006 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-21 for a full day at the Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona, Spain. He completed 79 laps of the circuit, but his fastest lap was three seconds off the pace of regular race drivers. McLaren are using his expertise to see how Formula One has evolved over the years since his retirement from Formula One at the 2001 Japanese Grand Prix for possible developments which may come out of this testing. Ron Dennis has stated that this might be Häkkinen's only Formula One test for the Woking team.
Häkkinen has also been named as the Responsible Drinking Ambassador for McLaren sponsor Johnnie Walker.
Häkkinen announced his retirement from competitive motorsport on Sunday, November 4 2007. He was quoted as saying that the decision "was not an easy one," but added that "racing is still in my blood and this decision does not mean that this will prevent me from racing for pleasure."
In November 2008, Häkkinen announced that he will begin a new career in driver management.
|Season||Series||Team Name||Races||Poles||Wins||Points||Final Placing|
|1974-1986||Karting||?||?||?||?||?||5 times Finnish Champion|
|1987||Nordic Formula Ford||Reynard||15||?||9||40||1st|
|1988||GM Vauxhall-Lotus Challenge||Dragon||10||4||3||127||2nd|
|Cellnet F3 SuperPrix||WSR||1||1||1||N/A||1st|
|Macau Grand Prix||Dragon||1||0||0||N/A||R|
|Macau Grand Prix||WSR||1||1||0||N/A||R|
|Fuji F3 Race||WSR||1||0||0||N/A||DNQ|
Complete Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position, races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Complete DTM results
* Half points were awarded in the race due to several errors made by the race officials.
Häkkinen can ride a unicycle and has performed on stage riding one.
- FlyingFinn.de, Unofficial Fanwebsite (German)
- Mika Häkkinen Statistics
- Mika Häkkinen career details
Template:Autosport International Racing Driver Award