started out his racing career in the same way as all the great
drivers, in karting. He started karting in 1973 at the
age of 5 and won his first race 2 years later. From
the age of 11 Mika won championship after championship, as detailed
in the table below.
into single seater racing was equally successful, he held three
Formula Ford 1600 championship titles at the end of his first
season, in 1987.
move into British Formula 3 in 1989, Hakkinen won the championship
in just his second season, with West Surrey Racing.
The US Grand Prix of 1991, in Pheonix, Arizona was Mika's
debut in the world's top racing series. He retired from
this race with engine failure, after spinning several times.
His team was the now departed Lotus-Judd.
to McLaren was in 1993, when they were using Ford power.
He was employed as a test driver, Ayrton Senna and Michael Andretti
being the race drivers. When Andretti opted to return
to CART racing, Mika was promoted to race driver and sensationally
out qualified Senna in his first race with the team.
It was with McLaren that Mika gained his first podium finish,
3rd in the Japanese GP. In 1995 a serious accident during
practice at the Australian Grand Prix brought him within inches
of his life. A tyre had deflated at high speed with the
result of a hard impact into a tyre wall, severe head injuries
and a coma. However, he recovered and returned to racing,
and won his first GP in 1997, which was the European Grand Prix
of that year.