Former F1 champion, Mika Hakkinen, reflected back on 2018 with a throwback post on his Instagram account to the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this year at Suzuka. The Finn had driven his 1998 championship-winning McLaren at the iconic track, where Lewis Hamilton took victory for Mercedes.
However, a keen Reddit user spotted a unique fact about the former champion- the fact that he wore a hearing aid. Check out the Instagram post from Hakkinen here:
Ever since he retired in 2001, Hakkinen has largely decided to stay off the public eye, preferring to operate behind the scenes. Due to this, not a lot is known about him, and apparently his hearing degraded after a horrific crash in 1995.
In a qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, a rear tyre burst as Hakkinen approached a high-speed corner and he was thrown sideways into a wall at 200 kmph. Luckily for him, doctors arrived quickly on the scene and saved his life, though it had some repercussions for him. Check out the Reddit thread here:
Hakkinen did not lose his resolve though as he won the F1 title just three years later, in 1998, getting the better of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. If that was not proof enough of his grit, he repeated the feat in 1999, again defeating Ferrari but his closest rival this time was Schumacher’s teammate, Eddie Irvine.
Hakkinen put up a good fight in 2000 as well but this time Schumacher and Ferrari executed a perfect pit-stop strategy at Suzuka to take their first championship since 1979. The Finn would not win any more championships, but did pull off arguably the best overtake we may have seen in F1, on Schumacher at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2001.
He retired, somewhat too early, after the 2001 season and his place at McLaren was taken by his compatriot protege and future world champion, albeit with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen.