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

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  1. Blake Merriam said on 7th January 2011, 8:29

    My opinion is unashamedly bias, because my cousin was on the pit crew of Villenuve when he was in Indycar before he went to Formula 1. And it was that connection that drew me to Formula 1. The greatest finishing of Villenuve that I saw (and only) was at my first Formula 1 race in Spa 2005 where Villenuve just passed Ralf Schumacher to beat him at the finish line by just tenths of a second.

  2. pking008 (@pking008) said on 7th January 2011, 20:44

    uhmm… i voted Mika but i think JV is probably the most unfairly critised amongst past f1 champs

  3. spudw said on 7th January 2011, 22:30

    Leaving the comparison aside, I think we can credit JV as the most successful in modern motosport in making the transition from North American open wheel to F1.

    And as a character, far more memorable that most champions, let alone Hakkinen.

    I’m still hopeful, although not entirely optimistic, that he’ll make some kind of a come back.

  4. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 10th January 2011, 6:15

    I still miss Mika, he left the sport at the right time for himself, but to early for 1000’s of fans

  5. Not an easy one when you think about it. Villeneuve nearly won the title in his 1st season, did so in his 2nd and things went downhill from there. Truly unique as he had a career in reverse some might say, comparable to Fittipaldi’s. He would have won another title at least had he made the right decisions and didn’t go where the money was. Hakkinen on the other hand took a long time to achieve that 1st win although he had spent the years before at a dying Team Lotus and a Mclaren team that was getting relatively poor results after losing the Honda engines. He finaly got 2 well deserved titles and could’ve gotten a third in 2000 but the Ferraris were too good. Plus he made one of the most spectacular overtaking moves I’ve ever seen at Spa 2000. Long story short I voted The Flying Finn.

  6. yobread (@yobread) said on 12th January 2011, 14:42

    there are no competition right?

  7. Raikkonen_Biggest_Fan (@raikkonen_biggest_fan) said on 12th January 2011, 20:38

    Definetely Mikka … No wins withouth Fins!!!:D

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