Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Champion of Champions

Champion of Champions: Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Mika Hakkinen succeeded Jacques Villeneuve as champion in the 1990s.

But they never went up against each other for the championship – the common thread between this pair was another driver: Michael Schumacher.

Villeneuve made a huge impact on F1 when he first appeared for Williams in 1996. He started his maiden race from pole position and would have won it had his car not suffered an oil leak.

That allowed team mate Damon Hill through to win. Hill beat Villeneuve to the title but not before the Canadian had won four races in his rookie season.

Hill was replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1997 and Villeneuve duly claimed the title after Schumacher’s infamous attempt to take him out at Jerez.

Hakkinen broke his Grand Prix duck in that race – thanks to team mate David Coulthard – and the following year he took Villeneuve’s place as Schumacher’s title rival. He won eight out of 16 races to clinch the championship.

This was the culmination of six years’ work with McLaren. Hakkinen joined the team in 1993 after two seasons with Lotus.

A second title followed in 1999, though Schumacher was taken out of contention halfway through the season when he broke his leg. In 2000 Hakkinen was runner-up in another title duel with Schumacher.

By 2001 his motivation seemed to be sapped and he announced he would be taking a year away from F1. But he never raced in the top flight again.

While Hakkinen endured several trying years at the beginning of his career, Villeneuve went through the same after winning his championship. He left Williams to join the new BAR team in 1999 and the project made excruciatingly slow progress.

After a change of management at the team he left on the eve of the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. He made a partial return at the end of 2004, partnering Fernando Alonso at Renault, before moving to Sauber.

That team became BMW in 2006, and Villeneuve was dropped to make way for Robert Kubica following that year’s German Grand Prix.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Mika Hakkinen Jacques Villeneuve
Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, 1999 Jacques Villeneuve, Williams, 1996
Titles 1998, 1999 1997
Second in title year/s Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine Michael Schumacher*
Teams Lotus, McLaren Williams, BAR, Renault, Sauber, BMW
Notable team mates Johnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, David Coulthard Damon Hill, Olivier Panis, Jenson Button
Starts 161 163
Wins 20 (12.42%) 11 (6.75%)
Poles 26 (16.15%) 13 (7.98%)
Modern points per start1 8.58 5.23
% car failures2 24.22 22.70
Modern points per finish3 11.33 6.77
Notes Stunned Ayrton Senna by out-qualifying him in their first race as team mates Finished on podium on debut and won his fourth race
Recovered from head injuries after crashing at Adelaide in 1995 Took title in second season for Williams but never won a race again
Won back-to-back titles for McLaren in 1998 and 1999 Failed to score a point in 1999 at beginning of troubled BAR project
Bio Mika Hakkinen Jacques Villeneuve

*Placed second in points but disqualified from championship after the season ended. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was promoted from third to second.

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Mika Hakkinen (93%)
  • Jacques Villeneuve (7%)

Total Voters: 688

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Images ?é?® Bridgestone Corporation (Hakkinen), Williams/Sutton (Villeneuve)

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131 comments on Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

  1. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 6th January 2011, 10:51

    Webber is just like the modern Villeneuve. Webber and Villeneuve both could only win when they had a package that was faster by a country mile. Then Villeneuve stopped having that, and he stopped winning

    • I think, though harshly put, that is a fair comparison.

      Webber is more of a journeyman though, he has driven for many teams and earnt his place at Red Bull.

      Villeneuve was helped into the Williams drive by a mixture of his IndyCar success and his surname, and couldn’t beat Hill. Then beat Frentzen (who, strangely, went on to beat Hill at Jordan!), in the best car, to take the title.

      I think Hakkinen takes this easily.

  2. David B (@david-b) said on 6th January 2011, 11:00

    I believe Villeneuve has been one of the luckiest F1 drivers ever. He won the title thanks to a enormous mistake by Schumi. If Schumi didn’ turn into the Dry Sack bend, that famous overtake attempt would have finished with a long breaking in the sand. Schumi really kept him in by turning against Villeneuve’s car.
    That day Villeneuve career actually went over. I can’t remember any good spot afterwards.
    Mika has been so quick, so brave, so…gentleman. One of the drivers I missed more when he decided to quit. I always have supported Schumacher, but MIka had all my respect and great estimation.

    • I don’t agree with that, it was inevitable that Jacques was going to pass at some point. Villeneuve would’ve pulled off that move regardless of Schumacher turning in.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 6th January 2011, 11:22

      Schumacher himself said that his biggest regret was that he turned in as he would have re-passed Villeneuve going into the next corner. At the time I thought that was a little silly, because Michael was clearly ailing, but I hadn’t thought about it this way before, that Villeneuve could have ended up in the gravel trap and lost the championship. That would have been an epic ending and goes to show how stupid these run-off areas are.

    • spudw said on 7th January 2011, 22:24

      If Schumi didn’ turn into the Dry Sack bend, that famous overtake attempt would have finished with a long breaking in the sand. Schumi really kept him in by turning against Villeneuve’s car.

      That was Schumi’s opinion, but it was and is unprovable. By the same token, Villeneuve was very confident he’d have made the corner and retained the lead.

      If fact, had the pass on Schumi been made without interference and had JV been allowed to win the race, I think the general opinion on Villeneuve as a champion would be somewhat more positive.

      While I’m inclined to agree Hakkinen was the better champion, he made the 1999 title look very difficult, in particular given that he was up against a far less formidable Eddie Irvine. The DNF in Monza was painful to watch.

  3. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 6th January 2011, 11:01

    Very close between them but when Schumacher says that the driver he feared most in his career is Haikkinen you don’t need to have second thought.I really missed him a lot around 2003-2006 very few people in Schumi’s dominating formed have out-think him.In 16 years of his Mika’s racing career only Schumi have achieved more then him.

    Villeneuve comeback haven’t been successful as he even don’t knew which direction he will be going.

  4. robert said on 6th January 2011, 11:11

    I think Jacques making his appearance in ’96 and winning the title in ’97 were great moments in the history of Formula One. Winning the WDC was something that had to be done, not only for himself.

    • It was nice to see a Villeneuve win the title, but I don’t think he was “doing it for his Dad” – as it were… as with every other champion, he was doing it for himself.

      Jacques was a great driver in his own right – in my opinion, he was fortunate to be in the right car at the right time, but as I said yesterday, there are no lucky champions, and he deserved it.

  5. dkfone (@dkfone) said on 6th January 2011, 11:13

    Mika all the way for me. When I started watching F1 in 1998, for 98 and 99 he was quali king. Ok, he had the best car, but he was still trouncing DC with it. Also Spa 00, I will never forget as long as I live!

  6. amt2nd (@amt2nd) said on 6th January 2011, 11:17

    Thoroughly agree with most of these comments. I always enjoyed watching Mika race but thought that Jacques was not half the man his father was.

  7. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 6th January 2011, 11:19

    On the face of it, perhaps the hardest choice yet for me. But really, it has to be Mika. Both could produce impressive single laps and consistent pace and Villeneuve’s lack of a second title may owe as much to the rule changes of 1998 as Mika’s championships did. Let’s not also forget Mika had Eddie Irvine as a rival in 1999, you’d have expected Schumacher to beat him that year had he not broke his leg. But I feel Mika was a far more complete driver than Villeneuve ever became and if Jacques was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the rule changes came, unlike Mika in McLaren’s mid-1990s slump he didn’t stick it out and went in search of greener grass.

    Someone made a comparison between Villeneuve and Vettel and I think it’s valid, but in a more negative sense that Vettel’s skills will improve but he won’t become a totally complete driver like Alonso or Hakkinen. Now, if those too should meet in this series, that will be a very hard choice.

  8. Keirdre (@keirdre) said on 6th January 2011, 11:22

    Some good Hakkinen comments here…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRIq3UhoB-M&feature=related

    I miss him!

    (and he definitely gets my vote).

    • jihelle (@jihelle) said on 6th January 2011, 14:35

      The monosyllabic man. Kimi sounds like a chatterbox in comparison. In every interview I’ve read since he has retired, Mika displays a deadpan sense of humour and refreshing sense of self-deprecation about himself.

  9. RBAlonso (@rbalonso) said on 6th January 2011, 11:22

    I chose Hakkinen on the basis that his career reflects that he got the most out of the car he was given. His championships were deserved and he gave Schumacher a real challenge over the course of 2000. Let’s not forget that had Hakkinen won the championship he would be the first driver to win three consecutive championships since Fangio. That fact alone is enough to sweep aside Villeneuve who, as much as I love him as a personality, was uncompetative against some very average team-mates. Hill and Button whilst both world champions and race winners seemed to have an answer every time against him and neither would be considered great. I completely agree with Patrick Head that Villeneuve made an easy championship look more difficult, the 97 Williams was the class of the field whereas, Hakkinen’s championships had much closer rivals technically and that was proven from 2000 on.

  10. mrgrieves (@mrgrieves) said on 6th January 2011, 11:35

    Mika for me as well. A Bit surprised he’s so far ahead in votes though. Expected Jaques to do a bit better. Well i just feel Mika was one of the best drivers in F1 history possibly top 10 for me. There carears totally contrasted as Mika spent the early part of his caear in the wilderness while Villeeuve went right of the radar after winning the title

  11. Philip said on 6th January 2011, 11:41

    It has to be Mika.

    I still rate his qualifying lap at Monaco, 1994 as the most impressive single lap I have ever seen (and that includes Senna’s 1993 Donington first lap extravaganza!).

    Exceptional talent.

  12. Leftie (@leftie) said on 6th January 2011, 11:44

    Mika Hakkinen without even a trace of doubt. Hakkinen had some notable drives for Lotus, outqualified no one other than Senna in his first qualifying session for McLaren, survived a horrifying accident in Adeladide and won two championships later, being a most fearsome career opponent for Michael Schumacher, as admitted by the man himself. They raced each other for more than a decade in various categories.

    Villeneuve doesn’t come close, i’m afraid. Never won a single race in a car that was not dominant. Though he’s was a great character, not a match for those PR-muppets these days.

  13. I went for Mika but I do think Jacques is underrated. His early years in F1 were very similar to Hamilton’s. I just think he made a bad decision when he switched teams and that he always was a very good driver. Mika was much better in my eyes but I always feel Jacques is one of the underrated champions who really gets more stick than he deserves.

  14. Mr. T (@mr-t) said on 6th January 2011, 11:49

    It’s gotta be Mika. I bet even his singing is better than Jacques’.

  15. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 6th January 2011, 11:53

    Has to be Hakinnen for me, any driver who drove for the original team lotus always has a soft spot in my heart :)

    But aside from that, the numbers show it all. And justv as important for me, is that hakinnen came to Mclaren when they were basicly at a low, and build the team back uo to their winning ways after Senna left. Villeneuve couldn’t do the same at BAR (even though he probably had a harder time of it because it was a totally new team, then hakinnen did)

    Both lost their motivation after a few years though, so whoever wins, I can’t see either of them going much further then the next round…

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