WATCH: Hakkinen’s incredible comeback – From serious crash survival to back-to-back world championship success
There have been many memorable comeback stories in Formula 1 over the years, but the tale of Mika Hakkinen’s climb to the top following a frightening accident is a particularly poignant one.
A new documentary on F1 TV – Greatest Comebacks: Mika Hakkinen – gives the inside story of Hakkinen’s journey through Formula 1. From his “leap of faith” jump up from F3 to make his F1 debut with Lotus in 1991, through the years following his switch to McLaren in 1993, those involved share their memories.
The Finn’s constant progress came to an unexpected halt at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix when he was involved in a life-threatening accident during qualifying in Adelaide. Intensive Care Physician Dr Jerome Cockings recalls the medical response, which included an emergency trackside tracheotomy, amid what he labels as a “desperate” situation.
The film tells the remarkable tale of Hakkinen’s return to F1 just 17 weeks after the accident. Former team mate Mark Blundell and broadcaster Ben Edwards reflect on how the crash may have changed Hakkinen’s outlook, while race engineer Steve Hallam offers an insight into the ways in which McLaren adapted their approach to support the Finn’s comeback.
After a breakthrough debut F1 victory for Hakkinen in 1997, his then-team mate David Coulthard explains how the Finn carried that momentum into 1998, and Edwards reveals why Hakkinen’s first world championship title at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix felt “fully deserved” after his journey.
Another drivers’ title followed in 1999 but, as the film details, tough times were to come in 2000 as the Finn hunted for a third consecutive championship. Motorsport insiders reflect on Hakkinen’s decision to retire from the sport relatively early at the end of 2001, and why his legacy as one of the greatest drivers of his generation remains intact.