Motorsport Heroes: The day Hakkinen was crowned world champion
In Motorsport Heroes, the full-length feature film by Manish Pandey now available on Motorsport.tv, four legends of our sport share their successes, failures, personal struggles and life-threatening accidents. Today we hear from Mika Hakkinen about the day he was crowned Formula 1 world champion for the first time.
Hakkinen was battling with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher for the title, which came down to a crunch decider at Suzuka in Japan. Schumacher took pole position, but stalled on the formation lap, forcing him to start from the back of the grid.
Hakkinen had a four-point lead to defend in the points table, and led the race from start to finish to confirm the first of two world championship wins. Schumacher’s comeback drive ended on lap 31, when debris from an earlier crash punctured his right-rear tyre, forcing him to retire from the race.
Hakkinen recalls: “I got the lead, and I knew I could pull away. I just needed to stay consistent, and not make any mistakes.
“It was never a situation that you could relax… Until I saw [Michael retiring] on the big screen. And I was – yeah! – then it was great to finish the grand prix and be a world champion after all these years.
“And then Michael is coming to congratulate me [in parc ferme after the race], which is really cool from him.”
Pandey, who wrote the multi award-winning Senna movie, the 111-minute film interweaves the narratives of our Motorsport Heroes, telling their stories with both archive and first-hand testimony.
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