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Mika Pauli Häkkinen (Vantaa, Finland, September 28, 1968) is a retired Finnish speed motor racing driver. He was Formula 1 World Champion in 1998 and 1999 for McLaren, and achieved 20 victories and 51 podiums in that event. He is currently out of high competition, having competed for three years in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM).
Like most professional speed racing drivers, Häkkinen trained as a karting driver. He debuted at the age of five, and won a succession of regional and national championships before entering single-seaters. Then he won the Opel Euroseries Formula of 1988 and the British Formula 3 of 1990.
Häkkinen joined the Formula 1 Lotus team in 1991, year in which he scored in a single race. In 1992 he added six dates, which finished eighth in the drivers’ championship.
In 1993 he arrives at the McLaren team in the hands of his employer Ron Dennis, being a tester of the team during the first year. After the return of Michael Andretti to the CART after a disappointing year, Mika acceded to the ownership of the team for the three final dates, sharing team with Ayrton Senna. In Japan he got his first podium.
Häkkinen remained as McLaren’s starter in 1994. He achieved six podiums that placed him fourth in the championship. The team began its period with Mercedes-Benz as a supplier of engines in 1995. The Finn added two podiums and scored in two other races, although suffering numerous dropouts as in previous seasons, so that he finished seventh in the final classifier. In the course of a training session for the Australian Grand Prix at the Adelaide street circuit, his car blew a wheel that made him hit a wall frontally. The health assistants had to practice an emergency tracheotomy saving his life.
After recovering from the coma he entered, he returned to the circuits more combative than ever, at the same time forging an excellent emotional relationship with his employer, Ron Dennis. In 1996, the Finn achieved four podium finishes and finished in the points zone in most races, reaching the fifth final place. The pilot achieved his first Formula 1 victories on the final date, the European Grand Prix, after the champion Jacques Villeneuve was allowed to overtake the two McLaren in the last lap. With three podiums and seven points races, he finished sixth in the championship.
Häkkinen accumulated eight victories and eleven podiums in 1998, at the controls of a McLaren-Mercedes superior to Ferrari and Williams. In the last date of the championship in Japan, Michael Schumacher raced from the bottom of the grid to third place, but abandoned due to tire breakage. However, the Finn won in the race, which was enough to proclaim Formula 1 Drivers Champion against the German. In 1999, he added five victories and nine podiums, so he beat Ferrari rival Eddie Irvine by two points with a Schumacher injury in the middle of the season, and won his second consecutive title.
Häkkinen again faced Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari in 2000. He won four and seven second places, but the German won in nine races and relegated the Finn to the second place. The pilot declined in his performance, partly by his car in 2001, to achieve two victories and three podiums that would place him in the fifth final position. It is remembered his great performance in the Grand Prix of Spain where after leading a good part of it his engine left him before the last corner towards victory. In the same way he would bid farewell to F1 in the best possible way: winning in his penultimate race, the United States Grand Prix of 2001. During that year he announced his permanent retirement from Formula 1, ceding his place in McLaren to his countryman Kimi Räikkönen.
Häkkinen took the 2002 sabbatical season.
In 2003 he breaks his professional relationship with his longtime manager, Keke Rosberg.
Häkkinen returned to compete professionally, this time driving a Mercedes-Benz CLK Class for HWA in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). In 2005 he won at Spa-Francorchamps and got three podiums, so he finished fifth in the championship. In 2006 he got three podiums and finished sixth in the final classifier. In 2008 he won two races and finished the year in the eighth position, after which he retired definitively from motorsport.
In 2008 he tried again a McLaren Formula 1 on the circuit of Catalunya. However, he returned to ride on the Chinese date of the 2011 Le Mans Intercontinental Cup, competing for AMG in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
Häkkinen was characterized by his prudence, respect and chivalry. The overtaking of Michael Schumacher in the Belgian Grand Prix of 2000, doubling at the same time Ricardo Zonta, is considered one of the best overtaking in the history of Formula 1.
Häkkinen was married to Erja Honkanen, lives in Monaco and they have a son named Hugo and a daughter named Aina Julia. In early 2008, Mika divorced Erja. Her third daughter, Ella, had her with Marketa Remesova.
Since 2006, he has been the ambassador of the Johnnie Walker whiskey brand, with which he carries out tasks to raise awareness of responsible consumption, especially at the wheel.
In recent years, Mika Häkkinen is still linked to the world of Formula 1. In particular, he is the representative of the Mercedes Valtteri Bottas driver. Thus, it so happens that Häkkinen in his years as a pilot had as manager another Finnish champion, Keke Rosberg.
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