Mika Häkkinen

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born on 28 September 1968 in the Helsinki metropolitan area of Vantaa, Finland, Mika Pauli Häkkinen started his auto racing career behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of five. Having crashed on his very first lap, it appeared that his brief encounter with auto racing had come to an abrupt end. However, the racing bug had bitten, and Häkkinen managed to persuade his parents to give him a second chance, leading to him winning five karting championships by the end of 1986. Dubbed as the ‘Flying Finn’, Mika Häkkinen made quite an impression on the racing world, eventually leading him to become a Formula One driver for Team Lotus in 1991.

Having qualified thirteenth for his Grand Prix debut race held in Phoenix, he held his position until his car gave engine trouble preventing him from completing the race. Undeterred, Häkkinen went on to score his first Grand Prix points in the race at the Imola race track in Italy, by fighting his way from 25th on the grid to finish fifth – a mere three laps behind Ayrton Senna who took the checkered flag. The year 1992 proved to be a good one for Häkkinen as he finished the season in eighth place in the Driver’s Championship with a six-fold improvement in his points score over the previous year.

Häkkinen joined McLaren as a test driver in 1993, being called upon to fill the gap left by Michael Andretti when he left the F1 team following dismal results. Häkkinen made his McLaren race debut at Estoril in 1993, where he qualified above the team’s leading driver Ayrton Senna. However, a mishap during the race took him out of the running for points. It was at Suzuka on the following weekend that Häkkinen earned his first career podium by finishing fifteen seconds behind his tea-mate.

1995 presented some challenges for the Flying Finn as, following second place positions in both Italy and Japan, he missed the Pacific Grand Prix for health reasons. Back behind the wheel for the Australian Grand Prix, Häkkinen was critically injured during practice, with quick thinking by rescuers and an emergency tracheotomy saving his life. Amazingly he was back on track for the 1996 season, claiming his spot on the winners’ podium, although not yet in first place. He finished the season at fifth in the Driver’s Championship with a total score of 31 points.

The elusive first place was claimed by Häkkinen at Jerez in 1997 for the McLaren F1 Team. 1998 saw Häkkinen vying with Michael Schumacher for championship points right up to the third last race of the season. Häkkinen went on to beat Schumacher at the Luxembourg Grand Prix, claiming first place at the last race of the season in Japan. Despite facing a number of challenges in 1999, and making some serious errors of judgment, Häkkinen claimed his second world championship at the end of the season. Michael Schumacher took the F1 victory in the year 2000, reportedly describing his rivalry with Häkkinen as the most satisfying of his career.

At the end of the 2001 season, which proved to be somewhat bitter-sweet for Häkkinen, he retired from Formula One racing, initially stating he would be taking a twelve-month sabbatical, but in mid-2002 making it an official retirement. Between 2005 and 2007 Häkkinen joined forces with Mercedes-Benz for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), claiming a number of victories.

Although rumors persisted that Mika Häkkinen would be returning to F1 racing, in 2007 he announced his retirement from competitive motor sport, and in 2008 he revealed that he would be pursuing a new career in driver management. No doubt this Formula One champion’s vast experience on the track will prove valuable in his chosen new career.

Formula One Manufacturers

February 9, 2009 by  
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It is quite obvious that vehicle manufacture plays a vital role in the sport of Formula One racing. Certain Manufacturers such as Ferrari and Renault completely manufacture their own Formula One cars. Other teams will form close working relationships with manufacturers. Millions are spent on creating excellent cars, able to handle the road well and reach remarkable speeds. Formula One manufacturers therefore form an integral part of the success and safety of the Formula One drivers who pilot the cars produced. The global motorsport ruling body, Federation Internationale d’Automobile or FIA, introduced a new commission into the world of Formula 1 in 2007. A number of senior position employees from F1 manufacturers were invited to represent their companies on the commission. FIA representatives are Max Mosley, Tony Purnell, Peter Wright and Charlie Whiting.

Whilst Ferrari, Renault and Toyota are “factory” teams, that is, they manufacture their entire F1 car, “independent” teams such as Sauber, Williams and McLaren need to purchase engines. BMW, Honda and Mercedes are popular engine suppliers.

The final touch to the vehicle is the tyres. Two renowned F1 tyre manufacturers are Bridgestone and Michelin. Formula One drivers compete each season for the honorary Drivers’ Championship. However, Formula One car manufacturers are not left out, they can compete for the prestigious Constructors’ Championship. Cars racing for the season are awarded points depending on their finishing position. By the end of the season the points are added up and the Formula One manufacturer with the most points is winner of the Constructors’ Championship.


Alain Prost

February 9, 2009 by  
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Alain Prost was born near Saint Chamond in the Loire region of central France on February 24, 1955. Although Alain was a physically small boy he had unlimited energy and would give his everything as he took part in many sporting activities including football where he broke his nose several times. At the age of 14 years he discovered kart racing on a family holiday and from then on he became obsessed with it, winning several karting championships. In 1974 he left school to take up racing full time and supported himself by becoming a kart distributor and tuning engines.

In 1975 he won the French senior karting championships and as a prize was given a season in Formula Renault where he won two driving titles and moved to Formula Three. During 1978 and 1979 he won both the European and French F3 championships, which made him wanted property by several Formula One teams. With much consideration he chose to sign up with McLaren for the 1980 season. His first Formula One season was inundated with accidents, breaking his wrist in one and suffering from concussion in another. One of the points of concern was that these accidents were caused mainly from mechanical failures and the other was Alain’s increasing loss of confidence in how the McLaren team was being run. With that he broke his two-year contract and moved over to Renault.

His first Formula One win came at the 1981 French Grand Prix at Dijon and from there on he kept up his winning streak with nine wins during his time with Renault. However, a change was inevitable, so Alain Prost and his wife Anne-Marie and their son Nicolas moved to Switzerland where Prost again joined the British-based team, McLaren in 1984. His six seasons with McLaren saw him win thirty races, three driving titles and runner-up twice. During 1985 and 1986 he became the first back-to-back French World Champion since Jack Brabham ten years ago. In 1987 he beat Jackie Stewart‘s 14-year-old record when he won his 28th Grand Prix.

In 1988 between Prost and Ayrton Senna they contributed a total of 15 victories to McLaren-Honda. From then on there was intense rivalry between the two, which drove the sport’s greatest drivers to heights of success and controversy unheard of before. McLaren continued to dominate throughout 1989 but with the Prost-Senna feud reaching the stage of out-right hatred, Prost decided to leave McLaren and join Ferrari. Prost won five races in his first year with Ferrari but lost the season end championship in Japan to fellow rival, Senna.

In 1991 Alain Prost failed to win a race and due to his public criticism of the team he was fired. The year 1992 saw him as a TV commentator but Prost returned to racing in 1993 and joined William-Renault where he won several races bringing his tally up to 51 wins. When faced with having Senna as his Williams team mate Prost decided to retire and instead become a TV commentator as well as working as an advisor and test driver for McLaren.

From 1997 to 2002, Alain Prost created and ran Prost Grand Prix. Since then he has regularly taken part in the Andros Ice Race series, as well as several bicycle races.

BMW Sauber

February 9, 2009 by  
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In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One racing at the end of the Season

BMW, an abbreviation for Bavarian Motor Works, is an independent motorcycle and car manufacturer based in Munich, Germany. The manufacturer is known world-wide for producing beautiful, up-market cars that are a pleasure to drive. BMW also acts as a parent company for MINI and Rolls-Royce. The company has been involved in motor sport ever since they created their first motorcycle. They have competed successfully in Formula One racing, Formula Two racing and Rally racing, amongst others.

Initially BMW supported existing Formula One teams such as Williams and McLaren. In 2005, BMW made the decision to leave Williams F1 and to purchase the Sauber F1 team which was founded by Peter Sauber in 1993. The team became known as BMW – Sauber F1 and although BMW is the owner, constructor and engine manufacturer for the team, they decided to leave the Sauber name as a gesture of goodwill to Peter Sauber who currently acts as a consultant for the team.

BMW started its involvement in motor vehicle racing in the 1940s. They initially used their 328 model to participate in F2 racing, using the sport as a stepping stone to F1 racing. They ran their own team until F2 racing was stopped periodically in 1955 and then switched to F1. Even though F2 was later revived, BMW decided not to get involved with this aspect of the sport again – that was until F2 regulations allowed 1600cc motors. Suddenly the idea of F2 racing became a lot more appealing and by the end of the 1960s, BMW had developed the ‘M12’ engine as well as their 269 chassis. They continued to enjoy great success through the 1970s and decided to get more involved in F1 in the 1980s.

In 1982, BMW raced their first turbocharged engine, the M12/13. It was a complete success and it took its first win and the Canadian Grand Prix. The following year the engine took four more wins and won the driver’s championship. By 1984, BMW was supplying quite a few F1 teams with their multiple-victory engines. Despite BMW’s withdrawal from the sport near the end of 1986, the engine continued to be in use until turbocharged motors were banned from the sport. Tody the BMW M12/13 Turbocharged 14 engine is still recognised as being the first F1 engine capable of a 1000hp racing trim. In 1997 BMW developed a partnership with the Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The partnership proved to be most successful and BMW went on to enjoy many wins with excellent drivers like Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button and Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.

In 2005, disagreements between BMW and Williams resulted in a bad season and the decline of the partnership. BMW decided to purchase Sauber’s multi-million dollar research and development facility and take over the team. In 2006, the BMW-Sauber F1 team was born allowing BMW to exercise full control over their own team.

Fernando Alonso

February 9, 2009 by  
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Fernando Alonso is a renowned Formula One driver and won the World Championship twice. He is best known for winning the World Driver’s Championship title in 2005 at the age of 24, making him the youngest Formula One champion. This victory also halted Schumacher’s 5 consecutive championship successes.

Fernando Alonso Diaz was born on 29 July 1981 in Oviedo of Spain. His father, Jose Luis, competed as an amateur kart driver and even constructed a pedal kart to look like a Formula One car. Right from a young age Fernando showed a keen interest in racing and his parents described him as having a competitive spirit. As a kart racer, Fernando Alonso met with much success, winning several championships and titles in Spain. This drew the attention of sponsors who provided the family with needed funds to promote Fernando’s racing career.

It was in 1999 that Fernando Alonso moved from karting to open-wheel cars. He took part in the Spanish Euro Open MoviStar and at the age of 18 he became champion of the series. In 2000 Alonso began racing in Formula 3000. Once again he met with victory and thus began Alonso’s Formula One career.

Alonso made his F1 debut in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix, driving for Minardi. Unfortunately he battled to score his championship point as his car was not quite fit to compete against technically superior vehicles. However, Fernando Alonso’s racing skills were strongly evident. The year 2002 saw Alonso becoming a test driver for Renault in 2002 and later a regular driver in 2006. During the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2003 he earned the title of youngest driver to gain a F1 pole position. By the end of the 2004 season Alonso gained greater standings and points. Alonso’s 2005 was marked by consistency in racing and 7 victories. 2006 was the year Alonso challenged Michael Schumacher. The entire season was tense, filled with wins and losses. In the end it was Fernando Alonso who took the world championship in 2006.

In 2007 Fernando Alonso began racing for McLaren. Following a scandal in that year, McLaren and Alonso mutually agreed to the cancellation of his contract. In December 2007 he signed a contract with Renault F1 to drive beside Nelson Piquet, Jr. Toward the end of 2009, Alonso decided to sign a three season contract, from 2010 to 2012, with Ferrari.

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