Mika Hakkinen had his first run-in with rival Michael Schumacher at the 1990 Macau Formula Three race. Hakkinen ran into Schumacher trying to pass him when he didn’t need to, handing Schumacher the race. He would have his revenge eight years later.
His first two seasons with Lotus were wasted on uncompetitive and unreliable equipment, but when he got the chance to replace Michael Andretti at McLaren in 1993 he showed his stuff by out-qualifying Ayrton Senna at his first attempt.
Hakkinen spent the rest of his F1 career with McLaren. He beat the highly-rated Martin Brundle in 1994 but the lean times continued for McLaren in 1995. He was incredibly fortunate to survive a crash during practice for the last Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide thanks to the rapid intervention of Professor Sid Watkins’ medical team.
Partnered with David Coulthard from 1996 Hakkinen missed out on numerous opportunities to collect his first win in 1997 due to car failures. He finally did in the last round at Jerez, in a fixed result which angered onlookers. But in 1998 with the dominant MP4-13 he beat Schumacher to the championship and took a second the next year.
He lost his crown in 2000, again thwarted by unreliability at a crucial moment, and in 2001 his commitment had clearly gone. He ostensibly took a ‘sabbatical’ but, despite frequent rumours to the contrary, he has never returned.
In 2005 he joined the DTM with Mercedes where he stayed for three years, scoring a trio of victories.
After that he returned to racing again in 2011, driving a Mercedes SLS AMG in a GT3 championship race in Zhuhai, China.
Image © Bridgestone