Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Champion of Champions

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)

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97 comments on Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

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  1. Dougie (@f1droid) said on 19th January 2011, 16:25

    First vote to me?

    Had to be Prost.

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

  2. plutoniumhunter (@plutoniumhunter) said on 19th January 2011, 16:25

    Prost. Brains + Speed.

    • JohnGreen (@johngreen) said on 19th January 2011, 21:02

      Agreed.

      The “Professor” gets my vote.

      • mfDB (@mfdb) said on 19th January 2011, 21:49

        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.

        • Pionir (@pionir) said on 21st January 2011, 9:07

          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.

          • Jeffrey Powell said on 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. Tomakko (@tomakko) said on 19th January 2011, 16:29

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

    • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 19th January 2011, 17:35

      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.

    • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 19th January 2011, 19:48

      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.

      • mfDB (@mfdb) said on 19th January 2011, 21:52

        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…

        • Pionir (@pionir) said on 21st January 2011, 14:15

          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.

    • jimscreechy (@) said on 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. alilane4 (@alilane4) said on 19th January 2011, 16:30

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

  5. McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 19th January 2011, 16:30

    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 :(

  6. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 19th January 2011, 16:31

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

  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.

    • tom brown (@tom-brown) said on 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.

    • Duke (@duke) said on 19th January 2011, 18:34

      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. JCCJCC said on 19th January 2011, 16:51

    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. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 19th January 2011, 16:53

    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. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 19th January 2011, 16:59

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

  12. Sutil-M (@) said on 19th January 2011, 17:02

    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. marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 19th January 2011, 17:10

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

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 19th January 2011, 18:17

      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.

      • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 19th January 2011, 20:43

        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….

        • marsianwalrus (@einariliyev) said on 19th January 2011, 22:36

          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. BasCB (@bascb) said on 19th January 2011, 17:20

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

    • 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?…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th January 2011, 17:33

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

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

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 19th January 2011, 22:57

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

          • 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!

        • 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.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 20th January 2011, 4:14

        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.

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