Heroes
Topic

Heroes

Motorsport Heroes: Hakkinen on his darkest day in F1

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 reflect with Mika Hakkinen on his darkest moment in F1.

Hakkinen’s Formula 1 career was highlighted by two drivers’ world championships, 20 grand prix victories, 26 pole positions and 25 fastest laps. But the ‘Flying Finn’ achieved all this following his darkest day on November 10, 1995.

During Friday qualifying, his McLaren-Mercedes suffered a left-rear tyre deflation on the approach to Brewery Bend – the fastest corner on the street circuit. He hit the tyrewall at an estimated 120mph, and his helmet struck the side of the cockpit causing a fractured skull.

Trackside medics had to perform an emergency tracheotomy before he was transported to Royal Adelaide Hospital in a coma.

In the film, he tells fellow Motorsport Heroes Felipe Massa, Tom Kristensen and Michele Mouton what happened and what challenges he faced during his recovery…

“My accident in ’95 was quite a challenge. This happened in Australia, in Adelaide, I was going flatout on long straight. Just when I was entering the corner, it didn’t explode, it just pfffffft – lost the pressure very quickly. 

“So the car started bottoming, and I lost control of course. There was massive kerb on the exit, and of course I hit the kerb and the car bounced a couple of times. I hit the barrier sideways.

“I was in a coma for a few days. Then the horrible things started when you wake up. You start realising like ‘oh my God’. I banged [my head] so hard that I lost control of one side of my face, because the nerves got damaged. So when I was sleeping they had to tape over one of my eyes, to make it close. 

“Then came the time when they started tests, to see if you can smell normally, you can taste normally. I was there for five weeks, and my girlfriend flew to Australia to support me.”

Mika Hakkinen, Felipe Massa, Tom Kristensen, Michele Mouton

Mika Hakkinen, Felipe Massa, Tom Kristensen, Michele Mouton

Photo by: Motorsport.com

Read Also:

In a subsequent interview with GP Racing magazine, Hakkinen was asked if he felt that the accident had slowed him down any.

No, I don't think I would have been quicker, but I think I would have continued my career longer,” he replied. 

“It had an effect on me. It made me realise that when an accident like that happens – and it can happen at any time in F1 because motorsport is dangerous – it made me think, as soon as I won my world championships, ‘Hmmm... don't push your luck any further.’

Motorsport Heroes is available on Motorsport.tv. Written and directed by Manish Pandey, who wrote the multi award-winning Senna movie, the 111-minute film interweaves the narratives of our heroes, telling their stories with both archive and first-hand testimony.

To watch the film, subscribe to Motorsport.tv from $4.99/€4.50/£3.99 a month.

shares
comments
Should F1 introduce a WEC-style superseason?

Previous article

Should F1 introduce a WEC-style superseason?

Next article

Was Brawn's BGP 001 really the defining car of 2009?

Was Brawn's BGP 001 really the defining car of 2009?
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Hakkinen
Author Charles Bradley
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021
The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix Prime

The "subtle" Red Bull upgrades that kept it in the Portugal F1 mix

Red Bull's Portuguese Grand Prix fortunes were decidedly second best to Mercedes', but the result skews the potential that the team had at Portimao. With a new set of updates, the team looks good going forward into the rest of 2021's spicy F1 competition

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Portuguese Grand Prix driver ratings

The 2021 Portuguese GP will for several drivers go down as a weekend of missed opportunities amid imperfect track conditions that caused struggles with tyre warm-up. But the performances of a select few stood out from the crowd

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory Prime

The five key tests Hamilton passed to claim Portugal victory

Just as he did in 2020, Lewis Hamilton had to come from behind to win the 2021 Portuguese Grand Prix. Only this time there were two rivals he had to pass, among the several challenges he had to overcome, on his way to securing a 97th grand prix victory

Formula 1
May 3, 2021
Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals Prime

Imola 1994: Memories from Ayrton Senna’s F1 rivals

The tragic events of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix changed Formula 1 forever. Here, 17 of the drivers who took part explain how they coped with the devastating deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021
The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy Prime

The data that leaves both Red Bull, Mercedes uncertain of supremacy

Lewis Hamilton topped the crucial FP2 session on Friday as F1 returned to Portugal, but his Mercedes team cannot be sure it has the edge on its Red Bull rivals. As cool temperatures and wind combine with the still-slippery surface to present drivers with quandaries over set-up and tyre warmup, there's still everything to play for come qualifying.

Formula 1
May 1, 2021