Mika Hakkinen is a Formula One legend – twice World Champion, 20
times a race winner and regarded by Michael Schumacher as one of his
toughest competitors. But just how did the ‘Flying Finn’ get on the road
to becoming a Grand Prix Hero?
This fascinating programme is
filled with rarely seen footage showing how a shy teenager blossomed
into one of the hottest properties in motorsport. Alongside track
action, there are extensive interviews with the racer as he progresses
towards Formula One glory. Racing from the age of 5, we take up the
story in 1987 when the then 19-year-old Hakkinen stepped into a ‘slicks
and wings’ car for the very first time, testing a FF2000 machine at
The short test earned him vital sponsorship and a full
season in the Opel Lotus Euroseries in 1988, where Hakkinen marked
himself out as the man of the future against such rivals as Heinz-Harald
Frentzen, Allan McNish and David Brabham. We enjoy action-packed racing
from Zandvoort, Paul Ricard, Sweden’s Knutstorp and Jerez as a
determined Hakkinen digs deep to secure the title by a single point.
action moves to Formula 3, including racing from Monaco and
Silverstone, where the young Finn attracted the attentions of the Grand
Prix paddock with a drive from 15th to 5th. This programme also includes
rare footage of Hakkinen in his only F3000 drive, testing for Rene
Arnoux at Le Mans. We see the initial apprehension replaced by
intelligent analysis as the enthused young driver returns to the pits
after a taste of real power.
However, there would be no F3000
drive. The Lotus Formula One team snapped up Hakkinen for the 1991 Grand
Prix season, and we see the Silverstone test which secured him the
seat. It is the first time Hakkinen sat in an F1 car, and he immediately
impressed Lotus boss Peter Collins, who reveals in an interview his
admiration for his new charge.
Of course, it is behind the wheel
of a McLaren Formula One car that Hakkinen is best remembered, and
archive footage from 1993 shows him getting his first taste of the MP4/8
alongside first Michael Andretti and then the great Ayrton Senna. It is
a delight to have access to the rarefied atmosphere of a McLaren test
in the presence of a legend, and a legend-in-the-making – especially
when they take to the testing track!
The film concludes with
Hakkinen’s installation as McLaren’s number 1 driver in 1994, the final
piece in the jigsaw which would lead to race wins and championship glory
in 1998 and 1999, and secure Hakkinen’s place as a Grand Prix Hero.