Champion of Champions: Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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 ?? Bridgestone Corporation (Hakkinen), Williams/Sutton (Villeneuve)

131 comments on “Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve”

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  1. easy one here even from Canada eh! Mika Hakkinen.

  2. Hakkinen did supremely well to win his two WDC, especially considering he was well out-performed by soon-to-be-compliant DC in 1997.

    Jacques however suffered from stupendously bad judgement – who honestly (apart from Craig Pollock) thought BAR would be winning races straight off?

    Under other circumstances I would have voted for JV, but as Hakkinen was one of the few to go head-to-head with The Schu and win consistently, he gets it.

    1. kowalsky (@)
      7th January 2011, 5:52

      let’s not forget that the williams in 1998 was not very good after renault’s departure.
      If he didn’t get a chance to get into a mclaren his best option was to stay at williams for even less money that he was getting, and having to deal with head, with whom he didn’t get along. Or he had the chance to start from scratch at bar, in a nice working enviroment, making more than 10 mill a year. And hope for the best.
      Bad judgement you said. In retrospect maybe yes, but remember he didn’t have a cristal ball at the time.

  3. Villeneuve and Hakkinen both started off in a big way. Hakkinen doing well in the crappy Lotus then outqualifying Senna at McLaren.
    Villeneuve arrived at Williams in 1996 and drove rings around Damon Hill and Schuey until he had a very convenient oil pressure problem at the last Grand Prix, allowing Hill to win it.

    What Villeneuve was really worth we’ll never know, since he spend the rest of his career dragging some silly cars around, while Hakkinen stayed in a pretty decent McLaren. But I’m pretty sure Villeneuve is a lot better than most people imagine.

    I would not be able to choose between them.

    1. JV hardly drove rings around Hill who beat him… And Schumacher in those F310? JV didn’t even beat him in the manner he should have.

  4. For me this was the most difficult decision yet.
    Lokking at the stats, Mika should win it. Also when he stunned Senna in qualifying it was a great moment. But talking about making an impact, Villeneuve is on of the drivers that made the biggest of them all! He should have won his first ever race, and I reckon he’s the only rookie that was closer to being the champion of the recent years (I admit that my knowledge about F1 prior to the late 80s is not good).
    Also Hakinnen was a very deserving champion but he was in the F1 for some time.

    Mika wins this in the end I will say, but I think a harder decision.

    Villeneuve was also one of my preferred drivers, but it’s career slump prevents me from voting in him.

  5. Hakkinen, however neither driver ever won in a car that wasn’t the pace-setter expect mika in jerez 97 but that was a political gift, MH of 98-00 was of the class of a top 10-15 driver ever but i think he’ll go out in round 2. JV done well against Hill in 96 (Hill if im honest looking back was quite under-rated i think )and delivered what was expected in 97 but another one hit wonder sadly.

    Who do we rate as the best one time champ – rindt, andretti, mansell, hamilton?? I think JV is close to bottom of the 32 champions.

    1. For me, Vettel. Hamilton will win more ;)

  6. Hakkinen gets my vote, more consistent and blindingly fast. Villeneuve was also very quick but his poor judgement took him to BAR and he never recovered afterwards

  7. Mika… I was reading some comments about Vettel, alonso, even Kimi… but this is only about Mika and Jacques, and even when Villeneuve was talented, he didn’t take the best of it when he ventured into the BAR project.

  8. As much as I’d like to vote for Villeneuve, this one’s a no-brainer for Hakkinen. Stats don’t lie, particularly in this case.

    I was always a Villeneuve fan and followed him in Indy cars before he made it to F1. I think he is under-rated by a lot of people, but I don’t think he did himself any favors either. His move to BAR was a career killer. If he’d been able to stay in a good team, he might have been able to do something. But, BAR was a dead end.

    As for Hakkinen, all respect to him. He is a classy guy. He made the most of his opportunities; it’s too bad he didn’t have a few more chances in the early portion of his career.

  9. My vote goes for Mika, but he had a “double sided” career. His first part was rich of mistakes, I remember he was called “empty helmet”, but he recovered from a terrible accident and became a great driver.
    Anyway far better than Villeneuve, that was there mainly for his surname: when he started in italian F3 was a big disaster but had the chance to go on and find sponsors thanks to the memory of his father, many other divers would have been just discarded.

  10. I started watching F1’s at the age of 5 in ’98, and although i couldn’t quite make a full race with out falling asleep and I didn’t watch all the races, Mika was my hero. I remember going to the Grand Prix with my dad and he would where a Schumacher hat and I would wear a Mika hat. And as a five year old, who only had one game on his Nitendo 64 (F-1 World Grand Prix (’98)) I remembered Mika always being my favourite driver.
    I didn’t start to become obsessed with F1 until ’08 and I had no idea that Villeneuve was a World Champion until 2009 when I was surfing the net. Now too me that really said something about Villeneuve and his reputation among the field, so I’m not one to judge my opinion based on skill as I am unfamiliar with his early years but from the impact he gave me, it is not nearly on the same level as Mika’s status.

  11. Mika Hakkinen was the first driver I saw crowned champion when I started watching in 1998 when I was 6. Got to say he stood out more than Villeneuve (who to be honest I never noticed!) so Hakkinen gets my vote.

  12. Mika was better than Jacques, and a driver that many have already stated Michael respected…..maybe Michael remember’s the race at Spa in 2000, and that fantastic move made by Mika.

  13. Not the two greatest of them all, but Mika takes this one pretty easy. Even though Jacques was a natural talent.

  14. doesn’t senna count as a team mate of hakkinens?

  15. I voted today with my hard and not the brain. I saw Jacques grow up. My vote with the young Villeneuve

  16. Mika Hakkinen for this one. But I had to think a lot more about it then you might expect.

    I started watching F1 in 1994, so I’ve seen a lot of both these drivers and from Hakkinen I remember several manouvres (including the famous crying in the wood), which made the sport fun to watch. From Villeneuve I remember less. But maybe I was too preoccupied with other drivers (Verstappen, Schumacher, Hakkinen, to name a few) to take proper notice.

    However, after reading the comments above I started rewondering: What is it, that makes a champion a champion of champions?

    Is it the championships? The (un)easyness with which the championships were put together? The stats? The teammates?

    To me it is about championships and when I thought of this, Villeneuve came close because of the CART championship and the Indy 500. However, he didn’t get his triple crown and CART was not such a big thing in those days, so that’s why I chose Hakkinen, who was clearly superior to Jacques in F1.

    Still, it was a closer call then I expected!

  17. Mika Mika Mika :D

  18. Hakkinen, enough said!

  19. Post-1998, with the exception of 2001, Villeneuve showed everyone that he wasn’t capable of performing in any respectable manner in a car that wasn’t by far the fastest. That’s why Button, Alonso, Massa and Heidfeld all whooped him. Kubica practically matched Villeneuve’s 2006 points tally in half the races JV did, and Sato scored half the points Villenuve did in 15 races of 2003 in one race. Even in his WDC year, he scraped it in the final round because of a silly error on Schumacher’s part and inherited three wins (Silverstone, Hungaroring, Nurburgring) because of unreliability, something that people love bashing Alonso (even when he’s not been given the fastest car) for.

    Hakkinen on the other hand performed admirably in his few races in the same car as one of the legends of the sport and spent the early days of his career dragging the uncompetitive Mclaren-Peugeots into good positions. Then, Mika Hakkinen was given a car capable of fighting for the championship and grasped the opportunity with both hands. Although the 1998 championship went to the final round as well, I feel the Mclaren MP4-13 didn’t have the level of superiority that the FW19 had. Despite this, you couldn’t ever see Mika throwing it away.

    As if Hakkinen hadn’t already easily got my vote, there’s the move on Schumi at Spa 2000, his second title in 1999, his other statistical advantages, his genuinely likeable character (rather than whining Villeneuve), and the fact that he didn’t embarrass himself by thinking he’s a good singer.

  20. I would have loved to have seen Hakkinen vs Schumacher in more equally matched cars. Arguably the 1999 McLaren and Ferrari were quite close but Schumacher was eliminated from the title race that year halfway through.
    I Actually rate Raikkonen and Alonso better than Mika, he made a lot of mistakes and he had some pretty superior machinery at his disposal at time, which he didn’t always make the best use of.
    The same could be said of Jacques. He is not of the same callibre as Hakkinen but I’m reluctant to judge him by his later performances. I never felt he was quite the same driver after his accident in Melbourne which resulted in the death of a marshal.

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