Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Next up in round two of Champion of Champions are two drivers who had long and successful careers with McLaren.

Alain Prost won three titles with them in a six-year stint with the team. Mika Hakkinen won the championship twice in an even longer time with the team, lasting from 1993 to 2001.

Prost had the benefit of driving a series of highly competitive McLarens. Only the 1987 car was unable to challenge for the championship.

But he faced tough team mates in the shape of Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna – both of which became three-times champions.

With no disrespect to Hakkinen’s long-term team mate David Coulthard, he wasn’t in the class of Lauda and Senna. But it took until 1998 for Hakkinen to get his hands on a championship-contending car.

He delivered a pair of titles, but Michael Schumacher wrested the crown from him in 2000.

Hakkinen left F1 one year later. What was originally supposed to be a sabbatical from the 2002 season turned out to be permanent retirement.

Prost has also gone on sabbatical ten years earlier – but the difference was, he came back. He arrived at Williams, won the 1993 championship in the devastatingly quick FW15C, then retired.

Prost was a four-time runner-up as well as a four-time champion. He finished second in 1983 (to Nelson Piquet), 1984 (to Lauda), 1988 and 1990 (to Senna).

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.

Don’t miss F1 Fanatic’s interview with Mika Hakkinen tomorrow. Leave a comment on the round-up if you’ve got a question for him.

Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen
Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, 1999
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1998, 1999
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams Lotus, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Johnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, David Coulthard
Starts 199 161
Wins 51 (25.63%) 20 (12.42%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 26 (16.15%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 8.58
% car failures2 16.58 24.22
Modern points per finish3 14.96 11.33
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Stunned Ayrton Senna by out-qualifying him in their first race as team mates
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Recovered from head injuries after crashing at Adelaide in 1995
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Won back-to-back titles for McLaren in 1998 and 1999
Bio Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen

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

Round one

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Alain Prost (79%)
  • Mika Hakkinen (21%)

Total Voters: 639

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

97 comments on “Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen”

  1. First vote to me?

    Had to be Prost.

    Sorry Mika, as great as you are, Prost is right up there with the absolute greatest.

    1. …and as Keith pointed out in his comments, Prost was 4xWDC and 4xRunner Up, competing with other 3xWDCs.

    2. I agree. Oh, Keith, would you ask whom Mika would have voted for?

      1. Hahaha :D
        Funny man.

        How do you think Mika would react?
        :D

        1. Mika might well agree, I think he would laugh if you asked him and say “yes” (Prost over him).

    3. No competition here.

      1. Mika would, say “what do you expect of a Sunday driver?”

  2. Prost. Brains + Speed.

    1. JohnGreen (@)
      19th January 2011, 21:02

      Agreed.

      The “Professor” gets my vote.

      1. yea, The Proff is top three in my book. I always liked him more than Senna back then. Not necessarily as a driver, but just in general….Don’t get me wrong, I liked Senna, but only when he was in the car.

        1. 1st or 2nd for 8 out of 9 years (1983-1990) in various cars or varying competitiveness (including Ferrari during their wilderness years) and during a very dangerous (and low reliability) era says it all really.

          Several Ice racing titles showed his versatility too (a la Jim Clark).

          He’ll probably lose out against the Senna / Schumacher fans, but for me he’s #1 of the modern era and #2 behind Clark.

          1. Jeffrey Powell
            21st January 2011, 9:32

            Spot on!. I couldn’t agree more.I think if you put them in the same car Mikka would be Prosts equal on speed, but Prost had something extra,a great champion and still going!.

  3. I think that Mika Häkkinen is a bit underrated. But nevertheless, Alain Prost is a nobrainer here.

    1. I agree that Hakkinen is under-rated. Schumacher said that Hakkinen was the only driver who used to worry him – and that several years after his retirement and no longer a threat, not Alonso’s mindgames.

      1. alonso didnt play mind games with michael. never had to.

    2. Gutted. Mika didn’t stand a chance, he was my first F1 hero.

      I voted for Hakkinen because I never saw Prost race so haven’t really seen much of what he did.

      Growing up watching F1 with him racing was a joy.

      1. That’s funny. Prost was my first F1 ‘hero’. I liked Mika a lot though!! I named my dog after him (in 1994 by the way, before he was the champ!) His attitude and personality were always great, he was so quite and yet so funny…

        1. Funnily enough when I started properly watching F1, it was 1985 and Prost was winning everything in sight and I didn’t really like him simply because I rooted for the underdogs.

          As I grew to understand what I was seeing I changed my mind and now I rate him as the best.

          There’s a great story about how in the 70s when he was only 21 or 22 he was doing a trial against several other young drivers (I think it was a French F3 drive from Renault, Elf, Gitaines or something similar). He was a few tenths quicker in the practice sessions when no-one was really paying attention and he was concentrating on setting up the car.

          When it came to the event that counted, he was a full 2-3s a lap faster than everyone else on his first lap and maintained the lead throughout the day. He had been carefully planning this in order to both demoralise the other drivers (it did) and to get the attention of the observers (which he got). He had absolute confidence in his ability and maturity in his head to manage his performance in such a way, even at such a young age.

          Speed and wisdom, such things champions are made of.

    3. jimscreechy (@)
      20th January 2011, 11:25

      I think this is another case when it is difficult to choose because of preference in personality and character, over fact logic and irrefutable evidence.

      I have noticed that in choosing between drivers in these bouts, most people seem to use character preferece as the primary deciding factor, regardless of the overwhelming information that exists on driver capability… which is fine. As human beings I completely understand that it is almost impossible to render existing preferences irrelevant in the face of other deciding factors, regardless of good (or bad) intent.

      Even though I think that Hakkinen’s lack of achievments is largely due to equipment incapable of providing him with a sufficient competitive presence, I will still have to choose Prostin this case… though it burns me to do so.

  4. Has to be Prost for me too. 8 seasons as one of the best two drivers in the sport says it all.

  5. Everytime I come on to this page it asks me to log in and I can’t vote. Every other page says I am already logged in :(

    1. Now i’ve posted it’s registered that i’m logged in :/

      1. I voted for Prost BTW. As much as I love Mika, the starts are against him

        1. There’s some funny shenanigans going on with the login cookie. I think it’s to do with the redirect after login, which sends you to the frontpage rather than back to the page you were looking at when clicking login.

          After you’ve logged on and go back to this page, just refresh and the site will register that you did actually log in already and let you vote.

          1. jimscreechy (@)
            20th January 2011, 15:45

            Clear your web cache and allow cookies for ths site. That should do it.

  6. I think Hakkinen is great but it just has to be Prost here.

    1. same here… when I saw this round I sighed cause I really loved Mika’s driving… but I also knew it wouldn’t be enough against Professor Prost.

  7. I wish I could convince everyone that this is actually as close as I think it is… but I won’t… so I won’t! I did vote for Prost, but I rate Hakkinen very highly and would have put him through against, say, Mansell.

    But then, you have the Professor, who won 4 titles, and should’ve won even more. As I said, I voted for Alain.

    1. tom brown (@)
      20th January 2011, 9:07

      This reply sums up my opinion too. Hakkinen really was a superb driver, who would have won this vote if he was up against most of the other drivers in the poll… however in a straight vote here, it has to be Prost.

  8. Oh, I just can’t do it. I think this will have to be the first of these polls I don’t vote in.

    1. I felt the same,but I voted for Hakkinen for all the gutsy drives he had against the greatest of all drivers in my book,talk about driving on the edge!!
      .
      Prost you were excellent too,although a bit fierce with Senna,and a bit too much “argy bargy” between the 2 of U at times that make todays drivers look like little pussy cats.

      Still I say Hakkinen.Pity you gave up Mikka,we missed you.

  9. I believe Hakkinen would be among the other big names if he had a choosen a better team. He only had car to fight for the championship in 3 seasons and he won 2.
    But unfortunatelly the history is not make of “Ifs” so my vote goes for Prost, a driver with a style that I admired, keeping the brain working and processing is not easy under that kind of pressure.

  10. 4 2nd places and 4 titles. With 2 of the 2nd places being oh-so close. By that point, you’re not talking luck, which for me seals the deal that Prost is by far the better driver here. Not to put down Mika, though. He’s talented and a great guy. But Prost has it with ease between them.

  11. Voted for Häkkinen just because I know Prost will win this one.

    1. same here :D

  12. Its a shame because i really like Hakkinen but i had to vote with my head and choose Prost the better driver of the two.

  13. I did an approximate championship tree in my mind. We’re in for Schumacher vs Senna final folks.

    1. That’ll depend on how Keith matches them up… If Schumacher were up again Senna in the next round then only one would proceed. I doubt Keith would do that though. It’s tough, but I think Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Clark, and Fangio all have a good shot at the final four. Obviously one of them will be the odd man out.

      1. actually, the tree is known, first to from first round face off, as do winners nr 3 and 4 , same to next round, winner from first pair, vs winner from second pair.

        Which means you CAN have a Senna vs Schumacher Final, but my bet is on a Clark vs senna final….

        1. Yeah exactly the tree is known, and it could be clark-senna finale if clark beats schu. i doubt the ferrari fandom will let schu down on that occasion though.

          I’d say Schu-Senna finale, with Senna winning.

  14. I like Hakkinen but it has to be Prost for me.

  15. Keith, I think you forgot to put Senna in as a notable teammate to Mika Häkkinen.

    1. Understandable though… a bit like putting Senna as a team-mate to Damon Hill… only for a few races…

      Depends on your definition of notable… notable as in time?… or notable as in status?…

    2. They were only team mates for, what, three races?

      1. Is it true that in the first race Mika was faster in qualifying? Then in the race Senna was much better…

        1. Senna was busy that weekend with his Williams contract and probably got distracted.

          1. Walker: Senna comes round the 3rd corner! What’s this? he’s slowing down! Is it a problem? no! He’s got a pen! it’s his contract!

        2. It was by thousandths as I recall, but yes, he did. And Mika lasted less than half a lap in the race before Senna passed him and left him wanting, so the overall episode said a lot about how Senna dealt with challenges to his pace. But it was impressive anyway. Mika had been doing thousands of km of testing at that track so he needed no introduction to either the car or the track.

      2. Indeed. On another note, Prost and Hakkinen almost became teammates in 1994, when Alain was sniffing round that McLaren drive. But he decided against it.

  16. my best just mika hakkinen,no one else

  17. Mika was my first F1 hero, but Prost was just so successful its hard to argue against him

  18. I vote for Prost. For me he´s second best ever after Schumi. He was always there not matters what team he was racing for. He never dissapeared in the midfield along his career and his fights against Lauda and Senna as teammate tells lot about him. Lauda said something like “that french ******* came to McLaren to make my life hardest ever” years after his retirement. I read the transcription in spanish so these aren´t the exact words but sounded like that. Always reliable, always fast always doing all like if it was very easy and soft. The professor, men.

  19. Mika is great but Prost is one of the very best…Sorry Mika.

  20. Oh I forgot about Mika. Speed and cold blood. Alonso makes me reminds Mika, but i think Mika was worst under HARD pressure than Alonso is. Greats fights against Schumi and far better than DC. A very clean driver.

  21. Keith, would Prost have been champion in ’83 and ’84 under the current points system?

  22. This is evil. When I was a child, I always supported Häkkinen against the “evil Schumacher” (that’s a child’s logic for you) so emotionally I want to vote for him but my rational side tells me Prost is one of the three drivers I have in contention for best of all time, so no option but to vote for him.

    1. Funny, for me it was the other way around. The underdog Schumacher fighting against the driver in a better car the “evil” Mika.

      1. I never saw Schumacher as the underdog later than the 1993 season – from then on he mostly had a top car and first driver status. Even in the early Ferrari years, while the cars weren’t great yet, he was not an underdog any more, just not the clear favourite.

  23. My “invisible vote” goes for Prost beating purely on his abilities drivers like Arnoux, Lauda, Mansell and Hill, but still don t see him to be in top 6 (at least not in mine) :)

  24. Dammit, Mika was the first driver I really got behind. Stuck with McLaren when we were repeatedly crap, won us our first titles since Senna, took the fight to Schumacher like no other driver till Alonso, blindingly quick sometimes.
    Makes some of Vettle’s laps look distinctly human, he’d simply point the car in the right direction and throttle any and all resistance the car gave in the face of going faster.

    But god dammit i’ve got to vote Prost. BOOOOOO

  25. Gotta be Prost. I find it quite intereseting how people always mention his racecraft and how he wasn’t as naturally quick as Senna, but against Lauda in ’84 it was he who was the blindingly quick up and coming driver against the double world champion; and yet Lauda beat him. He obviously learned a lot from Niki about maximising the car over the whole weekend and took this on board against Senna. People idolise Senna because he was balls out every lap he drove, and his one lap pace was incredible but Prost definitely is on a par with him in terms of overall talent. He could easily have been a seven time world champion if things had just been slightly differently.

    I think Hakkinen is rated just fine, good driver and I always liked his sense of humour but I don’t consider him a great. He nearly managed to throw away the championship in ’99 against Eddie Irvine, i.e Imola, Monza crashes being the most notable. If Schumacher hadnt broken his leg Ferrari’s wait for a title would have ended a year earlier. He did have enormous bravery though, I still remember as nine year old watching that incredible overtake of Schumacher at Spa as well as coming back from that accident in Adelaide.

    Oh and as for a Schumacher Senna final, I can’t see Schumacher beating Clark.

    1. That’s a good point about ’99. He made winning the championship a lot more difficult than it should have been. The six races Schumacher missed should have allowed McLaren to seal both titles.

      My bet is that Senna won’t make it past Fangio in the semi finals and we’ll see a Clark vs Fangio final.

      1. If the draw which some people have posted is correct I can’t see Senna not getting to the final, where I would have him losing to Clark. When you see interviews with Jackie Stewart (who is probably top 5 all time himself) the reverence and respect he has for Clark’s speed and talent is apparent. In an era of great drivers he was better than all of them, and some of his stats are unbelievable.

    2. lauda was in the final years of his career, it’s natural that prost at the beggining of his, was faster.
      But don’t forget that in 1981, and 1982 rene arnoux was faster than him in qualy. And senna was faster in the mclaren years.
      Prost was fast, but no “senna fast”.
      He was a master in racecraft, but was very political, and won at the slowest speed possible, so very unexciting.

    3. People who doubt Prost’s racecraft don’t really understand how he drove. He had plenty of racecraft, but more often than not worked out a way so he didn’t have to rely on it and minimise risk.

      For proof of his racecraft, just checkout either Holland 1985 (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7456628617111916274#) or Mexico 1990 (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7pm19_f1-1990-fia-review-06-mexico)

  26. Aw Keith, that’s a cold lunch for Häkkinen putting him up against Prost… and the day before you’re going to interview him!

  27. As much as I love Mika, and as he was my first Formula 1 hero, it had to be Prost :/

  28. Prost. He was the best ever. So clean, so calm, so collected, so fast.

  29. Great to see Senna and MSC in the final not in the early rounds, quarter or semis.

  30. i think Lauda was the only team-mate that outscored Prost and it was by half a point only. Prost was fast but his main weapon was his strategy. I think in a way Prost learned that from Lauda, who even though could be fast if he really wanted, preferred to win by using his brains and willpower. Prost gets my vote.

    1. True, even the year he lost the title to senna as a teammate, he had more points, but lost the title do to not all races counting

  31. Have to go with Prost. Hakkenen was a great champion and a driver i rate mega highly. However Prost is one of the greatest drivers in F1 history. A constant challenger from 1982-1993 in many different cars rather than 1 car and 2 years.

  32. Too bad Mika had to go against Prost.

    Mika is one of my all-time favorites but it would be crazy to choose him over Prost who is right there with Fangio, Schumacher, Clark, Ascari as one of the truly greatest ever!

  33. i couldn’t vote this time but anyway.
    Prost is a top five, who goes against a very fast driver, who may be not even a top ten.
    You have to throw at the frenchman something a little better. He might heve been boring, but he was gooooood.

  34. Prost by a long shot.
    Only Senna can compare to Prost.

  35. I love Hakkinen, voted Prost. Basically, because he was a genius on top of his game for many years. Those who are undecided should checks team-mates section. Hakkinen’s team-mates = 16 wins =
    13 Coulthard + 3 Herbert,

    Prost’s = 5 Watson + 7 Arnoux + 25 Lauda + 5 Rosberg + 41 Senna + 31 Mansell + 1 Alesi + 22 Hill = 137 wins.

    OR 9 championships to zero.

    Albeit, they were not in the same team at the same time ie. most of Lauda’s wins came in the 70’s when Prost was not racing.

    I know Mika had Mansell as a team-mate for 2 rounds and Senna for three, but felt this is a fairer comparison.

  36. What amazes me is that Prost was runner up 4 times as well. And how close he was to the champion in several of those instances. He easily could have as many titles as Schumacher. And to think, he didn’t need the dream team of Brawn, Todt and others to back him up. He just dominated on his own, and against some of the all time greats.

    Prost may be getting my nod as Champion of Champions after looking at that history.

  37. As much as I like Mika, to be fair Prost was a greater champion :-( A sad vote :-(

  38. Had to vote for Mika – if for no other reason he provided us with the greatest on air interviews of all times :)

  39. Both the drivers have fought & won title by fighting with the greats of their time.Prost with Senna & Mika with Michael. I have to go with Haikkinen.

  40. Wasn’t Hakkinen teammate to Senna once? Shouldn’t Senna rank as a “notable teammate?”

  41. Berger beat senna the odd occasion in qualifying, it usually didn’t last for long during the race. When senna was on song it was nigh on impossible to beat him

  42. Just like last round,I’m voting the underdog! Mika won’t win and against Prost, he probably doesn’t deserve the win, but damn he could drive a car.

  43. i couldn’t vote. The system doesn’t recognize me.
    can you please ask mika his top five of the all time greats?

  44. I voted for Mika Hakkinen, because when I started watching F1 in 1999, there was Hakkinen, who was fighting for the world championship and he quickly became my favorite racer. Good old times :)

  45. Sorry Mika… I loved your duels with MSC… but my avatar says it all. (If you can see it!)

  46. Hey Keith, what about a sequel to this poll, i.e. something like “The most loved champion of all time”? ;-)

  47. Mika was good, but Prosts stats are way better and just look at his former team mates. 3 World Champions and while Mika’s teammates were good they barely got any wins between them.

  48. Yes, Prost’s stats were better, but his success was during a period when the regulations covering vehicle weight did not consider the weight of the driver. So this meant that, at 59kg, he had a critical weight advantage of about 13kg over the average build driver (e.g. Senna) and about 21kg over another of his teammates, Mansell. I can’t remember how many tenths of a second per lap that equates to, but I think it’s about 0.25 – 0.5. So a 20-25 second advantage in a race…

    No wonder Prost looked so effortlessly fast…

    Incidentally, it just occured to me how weird the way both Hakkinen and Berger outqualified Senna in their first race as teammates to him. Almost as if Senna liked to lull them into a false sense of security. :)

    1. That’s why modern F1 drivers are really horse jockeys with a couple of exceptions (Webber and Kubica come to mind)

  49. But he faced tough team mates in the shape of Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna – both of which became three-times champions.

    it should be “both of WHOM”

    i apologise unreservedley for that.

    ps. i voted prost – no contest really.

  50. JamesC1991 (@)
    20th January 2011, 13:11

    Big Mika fan great driver and great guy but the stats don’t lie,Prost was better
    sorry Mika

  51. I’ve always been a great fan of Hakkinen, but just as with Montoya, I didn’t rate him super high. Hakkinen was only marginally better than Coulthard and that’s hardly a big accomplishment. Still, great guy, at least for what we see of him on TV and in interviews.

  52. Alain Prost without question. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, he was one of the most feared drivers on the grid. He knew how to drive a race car and understood the political element of Formula One very well. A calculating man who knew what he needed and often got it. Even the most ardent Aryton Senna fans such as myself have to admit to the greatness of Alain Prost, even Senna admitted that he had set out to beat Prost at an early stage in his career. The battle at McLaren between the two men is stuff of pure legend and not easily forgotten.
    Like all successfull champions Prost could be ruthless too. Everybody mentions what Senna did to him at Estoril in 1988, and Suzuka 1990, but Prost also won a championship by crashing into his team mate. He also had a very healthy relationship with then FIA president Jean Marie Belestre which certainly played a big part in the conflict with Senna. Despite this, Alain’s points total and championship tally speaks for itself. Only Fangio and Schumacher won more titles than the Frenchman.
    Mika Hakkinen was always a favourite of mine so its hard to not pick the Finn. To come back from the near life ending crash at Adelaide in 1995 to become a double world champion shows not only skill but plenty of guts too. On top of that, Mika always came across as a pleasant character even if his interviews were on the Kimi Raikkonenesque short side and to the point. But I admired him for his comeback and was sad to see him retire. Despite that, Alain Prost has this one in the bag.

  53. Voted for Prost, it’s so hard to be a champion and he did it 4 times, and against Senna!!! Awesome

  54. My Prost can´t boast outqualifying Ayrton on his maiden race with Ron. Mika can. Shame what happened in Adelaide. He was a different man after that, I think.

    1. Remember it was his first race with McLaren – he’d already done two seasons with Lotus.

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