US GP: Mika Hakkinen preview

MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2000) -- Mika Hakkinen is a man with a plan. The goal: a third consecutive Formula One Drivers' Championship. Backed by the high-tech powerhouse of the West McLaren Mercedes team, Hakkinen became the first...

MONTVALE, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2000) -- Mika Hakkinen is a man with a plan. The goal: a third consecutive Formula One Drivers' Championship.

Backed by the high-tech powerhouse of the West McLaren Mercedes team, Hakkinen became the first Mercedes-Benz driver to win back-to-back Formula One titles since Juan Manuel Fangio accomplished the feat in 1954-55. And by doing so, the 31-year-old Finn joined the ranks of such legendary Mercedes-Benz champions as Fangio, Rudolf Caracciola, Karl Kling and Stirling Moss.

But this season Hakkinen faced an uphill battle. After failing to score points in the first two grands prix, Hakkinen found himself far behind arch-rival Michael Schumacher in the standings. While other drivers might have lost their focus in the face of this adversity, Hakkinen gathered himself and reeled off wins at Barcelona, Spain, and Spielburg, Austria. With back-to-back victories at the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary, and the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, Hakkinen maintains a two-point lead in the championship with three races remaining, including the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 24.

"I have won all of my grands prix and my two driving titles with the McLaren Mercedes team," Hakkinen said. "I have confidence in the team and in myself, and I know that I must score points at every race, preferably 10 at a time. I will continue to work hard because I want only one thing: to win."

Hakkinen's auspicious racing career began, like many drivers', in go-karts. He graduated to Formula Three in 1989 and from there to Formula One in 1991 with the Lotus team before joining McLaren in 1993. Since the McLaren-Mercedes partnership began in 1995 (and through the first 14 races this season), Hakkinen has scored 18 victories, 42 podium finishes and 26 career poles in addition to the two consecutive driving titles.

Hakkinen's natural talent is augmented by his cool self-confidence. The pilot says he'll also count on the spirit of his native culture to bolster him during this season's homestretch.

"I think the Finnish traits of courage and not giving up are a big factor in helping me achieve my goals," Hakkinen said. "I will not allow myself to be distracted. I am now the hunter." www.mbusa.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Mika Hakkinen , Juan Manuel Fangio , Stirling Moss
Teams Mercedes , McLaren