Mika Hakkinen remembers his first victory
A quarter of a century ago, on October 26, 1997, Mika Hakkinen won his first victory in Formula 1
A quarter of a century ago, on October 26, 1997, Mika Hakkinen won his first victory in Formula 1, although that European Grand Prix held at the Portuguese circuit in Jerez was already his 96th race.
Mika Hakkinen: "To be honest, it feels like it was a very long time ago, but I still remember that day perfectly. The moment was very emotional and left very strong impressions – this automatically cuts into the memory. Your first victory is an incredible experience”.
However, the rest of the racing world remembered the 1997 European Grand Prix not for the victorious McLaren double, since David Coulthard finished second in Jerez, but for the scandalous episode that occurred on lap 48, when Jacques Villeneuve, chasing the leader Michael Schumacher, attempted to overtake the Dry Sac inside turning radius, but the Ferrari driver shifted at the last moment to the right.
There was contact between the cars, but if the Canadian's Williams, although damaged, remained on the track, then for Schumacher it all ended with a descent. As a result, the title went to Jacques Villeneuve.
When two drivers are having a fundamentally important dispute for winning the championship, the rest of the Grand Prix participants face a difficult choice. On the one hand, no one wants to interfere with the contenders for the title, on the other, while they enthusiastically understand each other, others may have a good opportunity to distinguish themselves.
Mika Hakkinen: "Of course, there was such an opportunity," Mika recalls. – When you are fighting for the title, you are constantly experiencing incredible psychological pressure, although you should be calm. And McLaren had a good car then: MP4/12 was very fast.
It hardly raised any questions, except that it had a tendency to understeer. It's very interesting to race in Jerez, it's a difficult track that requires a lot of physical exertion, but on the other hand, the possibilities of Formula 1 cars were fully manifested there."