Hakkinen SchumacherIf you have raced in Formula One within the last 20 years, having a World Champion say that you were the only driver he really feared is quite a compliment. Particularly when that driver is no less than the legendary seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Mika Hakkinen enjoyed a career-long rivalry with ‘Schumi’ and won two Formula One World Championships for Drivers in 1998 and 1999, driving for the McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team. He amassed 20 Grand Prix victories along the way, started his career as team mate to Ayrton Senna, and became renowned as one of the very fastest and bravest drivers of recent times. It is no wonder he was known as the Flying Finn.

“I enjoyed my career, even though it was always a huge challenge and at the time I was busy pushing myself and my team every step of the way,” says Mika. “I am glad that my career ran parallel to Michael’s because he was a truly formidable competitor, so if you are going to win a Grand Prix or the World Championship it makes it more valuable when you have someone like him up against you.”

Mika’s courage was exemplified at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2000 when he executed an outrageous overtaking manoeuvre on Schumacher by diving to the opposite side of a slower car at 320kph on the exit of one of the most demanding corners on the daunting Spa-Francorchamps track. It was a move which brought Hakkinen the race win, and was recently voted by fans on www.f1.com as the greatest overtaking manoeuvre in Formula One history.

“I had tried everything to get past Michael,” recalls Mika, “but his Ferrari was impossible to overtake and so I needed to think of a different tactic, adjust my strategy. I knew that there was one place on the track where I could make a move, but it would only work if Michael couldn’t see me coming. I saw a slower car, and just decided not to back off and go the other way around it. It was a split second decision at 320kph, but it worked, I passed Michael and won the race.”

Afterwards Michael Schumacher asked Mika how he had done it.

“I was frustrated by how hard Michael had raced me that day, including putting me off the track! So we talked about it and I explained how I developed the plan to overtake him,” says Mika. “It was a good conversation, although I am not sure Michael appreciated the result!”

Today Mika has been involved in developing the career of Mercedes-Benz Formula One star Valtteri Bottas, is Partner Ambassador for both the McLaren F1 team and McLaren Automotive, works with top Formula One sponsors and make appearances including for the last two years at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“I enjoy talking about the winning mindset, the importance of detail, relying on data to measure performance, and understanding that you cannot achieve your goals unless you look after your overall wellbeing.”