Mika Pauli Häkkinen
was born on the 28th of September 1968 in Vantaa in the Helsinki metropolitan
area. He is a Finnish racing driver and two-time Formula One World Champion.
After success in karting and a near win at the 1990 Macau Grand Prix, Häkkinen joined Lotus in 1991 where he remained until 1992. Häkkinen joined McLaren as a test driver in 1993 initally as a backup for Ayrton Senna and took on the responsibility of race driver after Michael Andretti was dismissed by the team after that year's Italian Grand prix. In 1994, he became the lead driver after Senna left to join Williams. Following a life-threatening injury during qualifying for the 1995 Australian Grand Prix, Häkkinen made a considerable improvement in 1996 and took his first victory at the 1997 European Grand Prix. Häkkinen won back to back titles in 1998-99. 2000 saw the year that Häkkinen conceded the title to Schumacher with 2001 yelding two victories and the announcement of a sabbatical that later turned into retirement.
After retiring from Formula One, Häkkinen has driven in the DTM series where he won three races with Mercedes before retiring in 2007.
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
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.
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 in Portugal was impressive. In his first outing for the team, he
out-qualified 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 Ayrton 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 the V8 Ford engines to Peugeot V10s (a handshake deal was reportedly done for McLaren to use the Lamborghini V12 the team had tested in 1993, but team boss Ron Dennis decided on Peugeot instead). 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
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 at the early part of the first qualifying session, 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 cricothyroidotomy 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 missing only one race. Häkkinen climbed back into a Formula One car at Paul Ricard three months after the
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
The 1998 season was the turning point for Häkkinen. The McLaren MP4/13 was the first car designed by Adrian Newey, 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
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. Despite a more competitive Ferrari, Schumacher finished out of the game in the mid-season because of a serious accident during the Grand Prix at Silverstone. The world seemed so closer to Häkkinen, but despite this the Finn was able to celebrate the second world title in a row after the last Grand Prix at Suzuka in which he managed to win finishing ahead of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine to another thus concluding the world with 76 points and 2 points separating Eddie Irvine finished second with 74 points.
The year did not start in the best way for Mika who had to retire in the first Grand Prix in
The first victory of the season, however, was not long in coming and came 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. Häkkinen then came second in France and retired at Silverstone where Schumacher suffered a serious accident. Häkkinen then came third in Austria after a contact at the start with his companion and Coulthard was involved in a scary accident at Hockenheim where he lost the head of the world against Irvine. Häkkinen won in Budapest and then second at Spa behind team-mate Coulthard. At Monza, Häkkinen spun off and broke down crying in front of the cameras after running away from his car to hide during the
race. Häkkinen finished fifth in the next Grand Prix and third in Malaysia. At the final round in Japan, 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
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. Häkkinen took victory in
Spain, France, Austria and in Hungary. At Spa, he took a memorable victory, with a breathtaking 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.
Unofficial Fanwebsite (German)
Häkkinen career details
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