Getty Images
Back
Academy Member

Mika

Hakkinen

Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen demonstrated courage and skill in equal measure throughout his Formula One career.

The Finnish driver showed immense determination and resilience to come back from a crash in 1995, in which he nearly lost his life, to win back-to-back World Championships.  
Mika began his career in karting at the age of five and achieved success by winning regional and national championships. He progressed to car racing with the Formula Ford and Formula Three series in Italy and the United Kingdom, before moving to Formula One team Lotus in 1991. The following year, he moved to McLaren as test driver. When Michael Andretti returned to the United States and Ayrton Senna left for Williams, Mika became team leader.
In 1995 in Adelaide, he suffered a tyre failure during qualifying which resulted in his car becoming airborne and crashing sideways onto a crash barrier at 120mph. Mika was critically injured with a skull fracture, internal bleeding and a blockage of his airway. His life was saved by the efforts of the trackside medical team. He remained in hospital for two months, but made a remarkable recovery.
The subsequent arrival of Mercedes-Benz power gave him a car which matched his competitive instincts and he won his first Grand Prix at Jerez in 1997. From that moment he never looked back, collecting his first World Championship in style in 1998, winning eight of the 16 races, and the following year retaining the title in the final race of the season.
At the start of 2001, Hakkinen had another big accident, at the Australian Grand Prix, and he eventually retired from Formula One at the relatively early age of 33.
For the next few years, he took part in the DTM Saloon Car Championship and also competed in the Finnish Rally Championship and the Arctic Rally. He eventually retired from competitive motor sport in 2007. He became a Laureus World Sports Academy Member in 2008.