Mika Hakkinen, or the Flying Finn as he's famously known as, is arguably one of the greatest F1 drivers to have ever stepped foot in the competition, and so far, the greatest Finnish driver of all time.
Although his career span in Formula 1 was relatively short when compared to other veterans, he achieved a lot more than most drivers. Hakkinen started his career with Lotus in 1991 and then made a move to McLaren in 1993. He stayed with McLaren till he retired in 2001, as a double World Champion (1998,1999).
Throughout his career, Hakkinen competed against legends such as Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Jaques Villeneuve, Damon Hill and many more. But, out of these people, his rivalry with the great Michael Schumacher will always be the most memorable one.
Schumacher was once quoted saying "Mika Hakkinen was the best opponent I've had in terms of his quality, but the biggest admiration I had for him was he had 100% fight on track but a disciplined life off track. We respected each other highly and let each other live quietly."
Let's take a look at 10 of his most memorable moments:
#10 First points in Formula 1 (1991)
Mika Hakkinen started his F1 career as a test driver for Benetton in 1990. Although he was doing faster laps than the regular drivers, he wasn't expecting a deal from Benetton. So, he decided to sign with Lotus instead in 1991.
The Finn's debut race came in the United States of America, where he qualified 13th on the grid. But, an engine failure during the latter half of the race, saw him retire.
Hakkinen qualified extremely low on the grid at San Marino but impressed everyone by finishing 5th on the final race day and grabbed his first ever points in Formula 1. The race saw McLaren drivers Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger earn a 1-2 finish.
Hakkinen's luck and form dipped from then, as he retired from 2 consecutive races after San Marino. Out of the 9 races he entered, the Finn failed to finish 4 of them. Hakkinen ended his debut season 16th on the final Driver's Championship table.