"The Flying Finn" Mika Hakkinen to Contest Race of Champions

"The Flying Finn" Mika Hakkinen to Contest Race of Champions Photo: TT
Michael Schumacher sprays sparkling wine on the winner Mika Hakkinen after the F1 Hungarian GP at Hungaroring, August, 2000. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau.

Two-time Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen will race alongside Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, representing Team Finland in the Race of Champions. Both drivers will also fight for the Champion of Champions title in the individual ROC competition.

The only Finn to win a world title more than once at the pinnacle of motorsport (1998 and 1999) will return to racing next year, making his first appearance in the Race of Champions (ROC), to be held in Pite Havsbad, Sweden, from February 5 - 6, 2022.

Speaking about the upcoming new challenge, Mika Hakkinen outlined: “I’m very excited to be back racing again and to finally be able to participate in the Race Of Champions. It will be very different from racing in Formula One, but I love competition, and it’s so spectacular driving on snow and ice. I’ll try to get some practice at my place in the north of Finland before the event.”

The former McLaren driver will team up with fellow countryman Valtteri Bottas, and together, they will attempt to win the ROC Nations Cup for their country.

We have become good friends with Mika, so I’m very happy to have him as my teammate representing Finland in the ROC Nations Cup. But then, of course, we have to try to beat each other in the individual Race Of Champions. It will be entertaining for the fans, whoever wins it,” Bottas said.

Both Hakkinen and Bottas will make their debut in the event, joining a field of top drivers, including 9-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, FIA World Rally, and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg, and two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom.

Last weekend, Ekstrom added a new title to his remarkable career, becoming the first all-electric, PURE ETCR series champion in France.

The line-up also features 2021 American Rally Association Champion Travis Pastrana, 9-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, as rising WRC star Oliver Solberg. In the lead-up to the event, organizers will reveal additional names.

A UNIQUE RACING COURSE

The drivers will be racing on snow and ice at the wheel of identical electric race cars (FIA RX2e), using 100% fossil-free biofuel.

The SNOW+ICE course, built on the frozen Baltic Sea in Pite Havsbad, is located about 60 miles (96 km) from the Arctic Circle.

In that regard, Valtteri commented: “The fact that this year’s event will be held on snow and ice makes it even more interesting. I’ve competed in the Arctic Rally a few times, so hopefully, that experience will help as we aim to beat the strong competition and especially our Nordic neighbors from Sweden and Norway to add to Finland’s many wins both in the individual ROC and the ROC Nations Cup.”

ROC President Fredrik Johnsson stressed: “The local drivers might think they will have an edge, but the competition from nations like France, spearheaded by Sebastien Loeb, and U.S. with Travis Pastrana will be fierce, and there are always surprises at ROC.”

Further adding: “One thing is for sure; it will be very spectacular and entertaining to watch!

In ROC’s thirty-year history, competition has unfolded on asphalt and in stadiums. The 2022 edition comes to innovate, bringing the event to run under such challenging conditions and surfaces for the first time.

MEETING THE CARS

The FIA RX2e is an electric rallycross car equipped with a 30kWh battery. Its acceleration goes from 0-100 km/h in just over 3 seconds, generating 250kW (335bhp) of power and up to 510 Nm torque.

From inside the cockpit, competitors will be able to manually adjust the amount of torque produced by the front and rear motors, the total torque deployed by all four wheels during the launch, and the degree of regenerative braking on the front and rear axles.

In addition, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport will be making their ROC debut alongside the SuperCar Lite rallycross machines setting their return to the event, powered by biofuel.

A SUCCESSFUL F1 CAREER

Across over a decade of racing in Formula One, Hakkinen, 53, clinched two World Driver’s Championships with McLaren-Mercedes, earning 20 Grand Prix victories, 420 career points, stepping into the podium on 51 occasions, adding 26 pole positions to his name.

The Finn retired from F1 by the end of the 2001 season, remaining close to the series. And in August 2019, he took part in the Intercontinental GT Challenge sharing driving duties with Hiroki Ishiura and Katsuaki Kubota behind the wheel of a McLaren 720S GT3 at the 10 Hours of Suzuka.

Seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher, who shared a long-time on-track rivalry with Hakkinen, contested the event on seven occasions, winning two ROC titles and six Nations Cup for Germany.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and a journalist passionate about sports, particularly motorsport, tennis, and soccer

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