At 54 years old, Mika Hakkinen has this physical status:
Mika Pauli Häkkinen (born 28 September 1968), nicknamed "The Flying Finn", is a Finnish former racing driver.
He was the 1998 and 1999 Formula One World Champion, driving for McLaren and has been ranked among the greatest Formula One drivers in various motorsport polls.
Häkkinen currently works in driver management and is a brand ambassador for various companies. Häkkinen began his career in karting at the age of five and achieved success by winning regional and national kart championships.
He progressed to car racing when he entered the Formula Ford and Formula Three series in Italy and the United Kingdom.
After success in the series, Häkkinen entered Formula One in 1991 with the Team Lotus where he remained until 1992.
The following year, he moved to McLaren as test driver before he was promoted to the race team following the departure of Michael Andretti. After four years which yielded minor success for Häkkinen, he scored his first Formula One victory in 1997.
He went on to win eight races of the 1998 season, securing the World Drivers' Championship at the season ending Japanese Grand Prix; his success also helped McLaren secure the World Constructors' Championship.
Häkkinen repeated his World Championship success in 1999, taking five victories.
He finished as runner-up in the Drivers' Championship in 2000, behind Michael Schumacher and secured two more victories in 2001 before announcing a sabbatical from the sport, which became full-time retirement in mid-2002. For 2005, he moved to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, where he secured his first victory that year.
Häkkinen's form faded during 2006 although he secured two more victories in 2007.
Häkkinen retired from top level active motorsport at the end of 2007 and has also competed in sports car racing with Mercedes-Benz.
He also subsequently moved into driver management along with becoming a brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker and Mercedes-Benz AMG.
Early life and career
Häkkinen was born in Helsingin maalaiskunta, Finland, on 28 September 1968 to Harri, a shortwave radio operator and a part-time taxi driver, and Aila Häkkinen, who worked as a secretary. He has one sister, Nina, who ran a fan site for her brother until its closure in 1998. Häkkinen lived in the same street as Mika Salo with the two later becoming friends. As a child, Häkkinen played ice hockey and football.
When Häkkinen was five years old, his parents rented a go-kart for him to take to a track near their home. Despite an early crash, Häkkinen wished to continue racing, and his father bought him his first go-kart, one that Henri Toivonen had previously competed with. He later won his first karting race in 1975 at the Keimola Motor Stadium where he raced in the regional karting championships in 1978 and 1979, winning the Keimola Club Championship in both years. Häkkinen found further success in 1980 when he won the Swedish Lapland Cup and finished fourth in the 85cc class of the Lapland Karting Championship. Around this time, Häkkinen also drove a Volkswagen Beetle on the frozen lakes of Finland with friend Mika Sohlberg.
In 1981, Häkkinen won his first major karting title, the 85cc class of the Finnish Karting Championship. The following year, he finished runner-up in the 85cc class of the Formula Mini series and later won the Ronnie Peterson Memorial event and the Salpauselka Cup in Lahti. Häkkinen moved to the Formula Nordic 100cc class for 1983, where he became the champion on his first attempt and also participated in the A Junior Team Races for Finland alongside Taru Rinne, Jaana Nyman and Marko Mankonen, with the line-up taking the championship.
In 1984, Häkkinen won the 100cc Formula Nordic title and later participated in the World Kart Championship race held in Liedolsheim. He took his second consecutive 100cc Formula Nordic Championship in 1985 ahead of Jukka Savolainen. He took part in the Nordic Championship A-Class in the same year, finishing runner-up to Tom Kristensen. Häkkinen went to Parma to participate in the World Kart Championship where he retired before the event's final heat due to a mechanical problem. In 1986, he reached his third consecutive Formula Nordic 100cc title and also took part in karting events across Europe. To further fund his career, Häkkinen got a job with a friend repairing bicycles.
In 1987, Häkkinen made the transition from karting to car racing when he purchased a 1986 Reynard Formula Ford 1600 from fellow Finn JJ Lehto. In that year, he entered the Finnish, Swedish and Nordic Formula Ford Championships, winning each title on his first attempt and won nine races combined. Häkkinen also entered two races of the EDFA 1600 Championship and raced in the Formula Ford Festival held at Brands Hatch, where he finished in seventh position. In 1988, Häkkinen entered the EFDA Formula GM Lotus Euroseries with the Dragon team, where he secured four victories and finished the runner-up in the championship, behind Allan McNish. He later entered the Opel-Lotus EDFA Euroseries, taking four victories and became Champion with 126 points, ahead of nearest rival Henrik Larsen.
Going into 1989, Häkkinen moved from the Euroseries into the British Formula 3 Championship driving a Reynard 893 chassis for Dragon. He finished seventh position in the championship, scoring 18 points. He was later invited to participate in the Cellnet Formula Three SuperPrix for West Surrey Racing as a guest driver where he secured pole position and the victory. He also raced in the tenth round of the French Formula 3 championship at Le Mans-Bugatti on 24 September and finished third behind Éric Hélary and Laurent Daumet.
In 1990, Häkkinen applied to become a member of the "Marlboro World Championship Team" through what was akin to a fully sponsored racing driver academy. Its members were short-listed for testing by a judging panel including McLaren Formula One team boss Ron Dennis (whose team was sponsored by Marlboro), Formula One World Champion James Hunt, and Formula 3000 team bosses, Mike Earle and Hugues de Chaunac. In an April 2015 interview, Earle recounted that Häkkinen's application was the last one that he reviewed at the end of a long day, despite protests by Hunt who had already made plans to head to a pub for a beer. Häkkinen performed strongly in his test and went on to secure Marlboro's sponsorship. That same year, therefore, Häkkinen left Dragon and moved to the West Surrey Racing team and won the British Formula 3 series, by taking nine victories en route to the Championship, with 121 points, ahead of fellow Finn Salo. In November, Häkkinen entered the Macau Grand Prix where he drove to pole position and won the first heat of the event. He retired from the second heat due to a last-lap collision with German Formula Three driver and future Formula One rival Michael Schumacher, who was classified as the overall winner.
Formula One career
Häkkinen made his first test in a Formula One car with the Benetton team driving 90 laps around the Silverstone Circuit and set quicker lap times than regular driver Alessandro Nannini. He found it difficult to fit into the Benetton but liked the steering and throttle response. Häkkinen expected not to be offered a seat at Benetton and he decided to sign with the Lotus team for the 1991 season. Making his debut in the United States alongside teammate Julian Bailey, Häkkinen qualified thirteenth on the grid and suffered an engine failure on the sixtieth lap and was classified thirteenth. The next race at Brazil saw him finish ninth, and scored his first Formula One points by reaching fifth place in San Marino. Häkkinen suffered from a dip in race form as he encountered consecutive retirements in the next two races—his car suffered from an oil leak in Monaco and spun out in Canada. Before Canada, Bailey lost his seat at Lotus due to a lack of funding, so Häkkinen was partnered by Johnny Herbert and Michael Bartels throughout the remainder of the season.
Although Häkkinen secured a ninth-place finish in Mexico, he did not qualify for the French Grand Prix. Over the remainder of the season, he did not finish four of the nine races he entered. Häkkinen finished his debut season sixteenth in the Drivers' Championship, scoring two points.
Häkkinen remained at Lotus for 1992 and was partnered by Herbert. At the opening round of the season in South Africa, Häkkinen finished in ninth position, which he followed up with his first points of the season in Mexico. He took a further finish in Brazil, although he did not qualify for the San Marino Grand Prix and suffered consecutive retirements in the following two races. At Monaco, Lotus introduced their new car, the Lotus 107. Häkkinen later gathered further consecutive points in the following two races, before he was forced into retirement at the German Grand Prix due to an engine failure. A similar pattern followed in the next three races, which was broken when he finished fifth in Portugal and suffered a retirement at the penultimate round of the year in Japan. Häkkinen concluded the season with a seventh-place finish in Australia.
During the season, Häkkinen became embroiled in a contract dispute. Häkkinen, who was under contract to Lotus, opted to join Williams. However, Williams had not submitted their entry for the 1993 season, and Häkkinen was unable to join the team when he learnt that Lotus team principal Peter Collins would veto the Williams team entry if they had signed Häkkinen. Häkkinen later approached Ligier although his contract contained a clause of which his manager Keke Rosberg disagreed. He later approached McLaren team principal Ron Dennis for a contract with the team, which was drafted at Courchevel Airport. The dispute eventually went to the Formula One Contract Recognition Board, who ruled in favour of McLaren after two days of deliberation.
For 1993, Häkkinen joined McLaren, originally as a race driver, although he became the team's official test driver when CART driver Michael Andretti was hired by the team. Apart from regular testing duties, Häkkinen entered two Porsche Supercup races, held as a support race for the Monaco Grand Prix, where he started at pole position and took victory in both races. He was promoted to a Formula One race seat after the Italian Grand Prix, when Andretti left Formula One. Häkkinen entered the Portuguese Grand Prix where he out-qualified regular driver Ayrton Senna. During the race, he retired due to collision with a concrete wall. At the next race held in Japan, Häkkinen claimed the first podium of his career with a third-place finish, and ended the season when his McLaren car suffered a brake pipe failure in Australia. Häkkinen concluded the season with 15th in the Drivers' Championship, scoring 4 points. In December, McLaren confirmed that Häkkinen would remain with the team on a three-year contract from the 1994 season onwards.
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.
Häkkinen stayed at McLaren for 1994 and was partnered by experienced driver Martin Brundle. He endured a torrid start: at the first two races of the season, Häkkinen retired as his car developed engine problems in the Brazilian Grand Prix and gearbox issues in the Pacific Grand Prix which included a collision with Senna on the first lap. He later reached his first podium finish of the season at the San Marino Grand Prix, although he suffered a dip in form as he was forced into consecutive retirements in the next four races.
Häkkinen raced to a further podium finish at the British Grand Prix, despite a last-lap collision with Jordan driver Rubens Barrichello for which he received a one-race ban, suspended for three races. The ban was enforced after the German Grand Prix, where Häkkinen collided with Williams driver David Coulthard with the Finn's car sliding into another group of cars. He was replaced by Philippe Alliot for the next race in Hungary.
Häkkinen returned for the Belgian Grand Prix, initially coming third but was later promoted to second after the disqualification of Benetton driver Michael Schumacher. He got consecutive 3rd-place podium finishes in the next three races, before rounding off the season by finishing the final two races in Japan and Australia, albeit outside of the points scoring positions. Häkkinen managed a fourth place in the Drivers' Championship, scoring 26 points.
Häkkinen remained at McLaren for 1995, and was partnered by Nigel Mansell. During pre-season testing, Häkkinen and teammate Mansell complained the car, the McLaren MP4/10, was not wide enough to fit in, resulting in their hands and elbows striking the sides of the cockpit. Mansell was forced to miss the opening two rounds, so Häkkinen was partnered with Mark Blundell.
Häkkinen started off the season by finishing fourth in Brazil, and later retired in Argentina due to a collision which punctured his left rear tyre that followed a spin. He took a further points finish with a 5th place at San Marino, before suffering from consecutive retirements in the next three races. For the French Grand Prix, McLaren introduced a revised version of their car, the McLaren MP4/10B. This did not revive Häkkinen's fortunes as he did not finish in the points scoring positions, and later suffered consecutive retirements in the next four races, but got second place at the Italian Grand Prix. He was forced to miss the Pacific Grand Prix due to an operation for appendicitis and was replaced by Jan Magnussen. He returned for the Japanese Grand Prix, with a second-place finish.
At the season finale held in Australia, Häkkinen's car suffered a tyre failure during the event's first qualifying session on Friday, which resulted in his car becoming airborne and crashing sideways into the crash barrier on the outside of Brewery corner, the fastest corner of the Adelaide Street Circuit, at an estimated speed of 120 mph. The session was suspended with Häkkinen being critically injured due to sustaining a skull fracture, internal bleeding and a blockage of his airway. His life was saved by the efforts of the trackside medical team including the President of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety, Sid Watkins and volunteer doctors Jerome Cockings and Steve Lewis from the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Cockings performed an emergency tracheotomy on the track, delivering oxygen to enable Häkkinen to breathe. Watkins later arrived in the medical car, allowing the doctors to continue, restarting Häkkinen's heart twice. Häkkinen was immediately transported by ambulance to the nearby Royal Adelaide Hospital which was luckily located only about half a kilometre from the circuit. There he remained in a critical condition under care of the Trauma Service, the Neurosurgical Unit, and the Intensive Care Unit and remained in the hospital for approximately two months. He eventually made a remarkable recovery. As an expression of thanks for the elite class medical attention he received, Häkkinen donated a substantial undisclosed sum of money to help build a much-needed helipad for The Royal Adelaide Hospital, and made a special trip to Australia for the official opening ceremony in March 1997.
Häkkinen finished the 1995 season seventh in the Drivers' Championship, with 17 points.
The 1996 season was the first in which Häkkinen was the more experienced driver in his team and was partnered by David Coulthard. Häkkinen was confident going into the season and set himself a target of winning races. To ensure his fitness, Häkkinen spent time training in Bali and in February, McLaren conducted a secret test at the Paul Ricard Circuit. In the event that Häkkinen was not prepared, McLaren had Magnussen to replace him should the need arise. The season started well for Häkkinen: He earned consecutive points-scoring positions in the opening two rounds, before he suffered his first retirement of the season in Argentina as his car developed a throttle problem. He later finished the next two races, albeit outside of the points scoring positions, before returning consecutive finishes inside of the points in the following four races.
In the following race held in Britain where McLaren brought a revised version of the car, their McLaren MP4/11B, Häkkinen reached his first podium finish of the season with third place. However, he retired from the next race held in Germany due to a gearbox failure. This marked a turning point in Häkkinen's season as he finished the next three races, including consecutive third-place finishes in Belgium and Italy. In September, it was announced that Häkkinen would remain at McLaren for 1997, having previously been linked to Williams and Benetton. He retired from the penultimate round in Portugal resulting a collision with teammate Coulthard, damaging Häkkinen's front wing and eventually led to his retirement on the 52nd lap of the race. He rounded off the season with a third-place finish in season finale held in Japan. Häkkinen finished the season fifth in the Drivers' Championship, scoring 31 points.
Häkkinen again remained at McLaren for 1997 and Coulthard remained his teammate. Häkkinen's season got off to a good start: In the season-opening race in Australia, he drove up to the third position and later scored further consecutive finishes inside of the points scoring positions in the next three races. He suffered his first retirement of the season at the Monaco Grand Prix when he was involved in a collision with Benetton driver Jean Alesi. Häkkinen later took ninth position at the Spanish Grand Prix, but later suffered three consecutive retirements in the next three races—a collision with Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine in Canada and engine failures in France and Britain. At the latter race, he had seemed set for his first win, but his engine blew while he was holding off eventual winner Jacques Villeneuve.
Häkkinen secured another podium finish with second place in Germany and later retired from an hydraulic problem in Hungary. He later secured third place in the Belgian Grand Prix but was later disqualified when it was discovered that his car used an illegal type of fuel during the event. He secured a ninth-place finish in Italy and later suffered from consecutive retirements in the next two races—engine failures in the Austrian Grand Prix and the Luxembourg Grand Prix while leading both races. Häkkinen ended the season with a fourth position in the penultimate round in Japan and raced to his first Formula One victory at the season closing European Grand Prix. Häkkinen ended the season sixth in the Drivers' Championship, with 27 points.
Häkkinen remained at McLaren for 1998, partnered by Coulthard. Häkkinen was confident going about the challenge for the World Championship into the season, citing the involvement of technical director Adrian Newey. The season started off with controversy in Australia when teammate Coulthard let Häkkinen past to win the race. Häkkinen had earlier been called into the pit lane by an engineer by mistake. Coulthard later revealed a pre-race agreement by the team that whoever led into the first corner on the first lap would be allowed to win the race. Despite this, Häkkinen took back-to-back victories by winning the next race in Brazil. He maintained his good form at the Argentine Grand Prix where he finished second, although he retired from the San Marino Grand Prix when his car's gearbox failed. However, Häkkinen managed consecutive victories in the next two rounds, which was followed by a retirement from the race in Canada as his car suffered another gearbox failure.
Häkkinen followed this up by taking consecutive podiums in the next two rounds—third in France and second in Britain. He managed further consecutive victories in the next two rounds, and followed this up with a sixth-place finish in Hungary. In August, it was announced that Häkkinen and Coulthard would be retained for 1999. Häkkinen retired from the following race held in Belgium when Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher collided with the Finn and was also hit by Sauber driver Johnny Herbert. He later managed a fourth position in Italy despite suffering from brake problems resulting from a spin. Häkkinen finished the season by taking victory in the final two rounds at the Luxembourg Grand Prix and the Japanese Grand Prix, which ensured he took enough points to clinch the 1998 World Championship, with 100 points, ahead of nearest rival Schumacher. Häkkinen was awarded the Autosport International Racing Driver Award for 1998. He was also named the Finnish Sports Personality of the Year by journalists. The Finnish Post Office issued stamps to commemorate Häkkinen's World Championship in January 1999.
Häkkinen remained at McLaren for 1999, with Coulthard partnering him for the upcoming season. The team suffered problems with their car, the McLaren MP4/14, during pre-season testing, resulting in a lack of preparation. Despite these setbacks, Häkkinen was confident going into the season, saying: "I've gained confidence and experience and am more relaxed. With this title I no longer have to tell myself every morning I can win, to put pressure on myself."
At the opening round in Australia, Häkkinen was forced into retiring as his car developed a throttle issue. However, he managed his first victory of the season in Brazil, despite his car developing a gearbox problem early in the race. Häkkinen retired from the race in San Marino when he collided with a barrier while leading. At the Monaco Grand Prix, Häkkinen finished in third place, having slid on oil left on the track surface in the race. He followed up the results by having consecutive victories in the races held in Spain and Canada. Häkkinen took a second-place finish in France, and was forced into another retirement in Britain, as a result of a wheel failure. During the Austrian Grand Prix, Häkkinen who started from pole position, was hit by Coulthard from behind and rejoined at the back of the field. Häkkinen eventually finished in 3rd place.
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. He managed his fourth victory of the year at Hungary, and followed up the result with a second place in Belgium. Häkkinen retired from the following race held in Italy, due to a spin while leading the race. He finished further with fifth place at the European Grand Prix, and achieved a podium finish with third place in Malaysia. At the season finale held in Japan, Häkkinen took victory, which ensured he took enough points to win the 1999 World Championship, with 76 points, ahead of nearest rival Eddie Irvine. In November, Häkkinen was ranked seventh in the Reuters Sports Personality of the Year Poll scoring 46 out of a possible 260 points. He was also awarded his second consecutive Autosport International Racing Driver Award for 1999. In November, Häkkinen was announced as one of the seven men shortlisted for the Finnish Sports Personality of the Year. At the awards ceremony on 28 December, Häkkinen was awarded second place behind skier Mika Myllylä.
For 2000, Häkkinen set himself new limits along with physical and psychological preparations for the upcoming season. He also believed that he along with Schumacher and Coulthard would be the key drivers of 2000. 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 reached 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 held 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 had another victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he took the lead of the World Drivers' Championship from Schumacher. Häkkinen raced to 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 retired with an engine failure in the United States. He rounded off the year with a second place in Japan where he conceded the World Championship to Schumacher, and held fourth position in the season closing race held in Malaysia.
For 2001, Häkkinen pledged to make a challenge for the World Championship, citing inspiration from the birth of his son Hugo. He also added that he was under less pressure to compete, saying that results over the previous year increased his desire to win. The season started badly for Häkkinen, as 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. The McLaren cars were off the pace in Malaysia, with Häkkinen managing to end at the 6th place. He retired from the following race in Brazil when his car stalled on the starting grid, Further points came at the San Marino Grand Prix. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Häkkinen looked on course to win his first victory of the season, until the final lap of the race, when his car was hampered with a clutch failure and was classified ninth.
He suffered further consecutive retirements in Austria where he stalled his car on the starting grid, and Monaco where his car's steering failed after fifteen laps of the race. At the following race held in Canada, Häkkinen took his first podium of the season with a third-place finish. He finished sixth at the European Grand Prix, and 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 gained a victory in the British Grand Prix. He was forced into another retirement in Germany when his engine failed, later managing fifth position in Hungary and fourth place in Belgium.
Before the Italian Grand Prix, Häkkinen announced that he would be on a sabbatical for the 2002 season, citing the reason to spend more time with his family. 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 raced to his 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 fifth in the Drivers' Championship, with 37 points.
Häkkinen has resided in Monaco since 1991. He also owns properties in France and Finland. On 18 May 2008, his newly completed mansion in France was burned down after a light in one of his trophy cabinets short circuited. No injuries were reported, although Häkkinen's collection of Formula One trophies was destroyed. Outside motorsport, Häkkinen enjoys skiing, swimming, tennis, scuba diving and jet ski. His favourite music acts are Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and J. Karjalainen.
Häkkinen married Erja Honkanen, a former TV journalist, in 1998. The couple have one son and one daughter. The couple applied for divorce in 2008. Häkkinen also has two daughters and a son by his Czech second wife Markéta Remešová.
Häkkinen joined Johnnie Walker as Global Responsible Drinking Ambassador for Diageo in September 2006, campaigning for the message of responsible drinking. He also led the organisation's Join the Pact campaign to spread consumer commitments for the prevention of drunk driving. He is also brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and UBS. In 2016, he became an official brand ambassador for Nokian Tyres.
Häkkinen maintains a collection of McLaren hypercars, all of which he keeps in Monaco. His collection is valued at an estimated €6 million.
The collection includes: