Mika Hakkinen, the Ferrari F40, and the McLaren F1—all motorsport icons. The Flying Finn could drive a wheelbarrow faster than just about anyone—save Schumacher—so putting him in the two greatest supercars the world has seen should make for interesting viewing.
Ignore the department-store jazz and behold the fastest of the Finns putting the F1 and the F40 through their paces. Through this footage, we get to appreciate his flowing, economical, yet aggressive style that earned him two world championships and respect from the Red Baron.
Good in the Cockpit, Good for PR
Though contractual obligated to laud the Gordon Murray-designed McLaren F1, Hakkinen makes one great point about the Woking-built supercar (2:16). In an era when supercars weren’t nearly as stiff or sophisticated as they are today, the F1 sported a revolutionary carbon tub. Mega-expensive then, as economies of scale hadn’t yet made them feasible for entry-level supercars, the car was the safest of any of the cars featured here. Which is good, since the F1 was the fastest car in the world for quite a long time.
According to designer Gordon Murray, who introduces the car in the video, “when we started work on the F1 we benchmarked all the existing supercars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and so on, as well as aspects of cars as varied as the contemporary Honda NSX and the 1960s Lotus Elan. The idea was to better the performance, vehicle dynamics, handling and ride comfort of all of them at the same as producing a car that could, genuinely, be used every day.” And despite the long odds, that’s exactly what Murray achieved, even though McLaren lost money on every F1 they sold.
Sitting in one of the F1’s two passenger seats, we get to see exactly how Hakkinen handles the 618-horsepower monster. With stabs of the throttle, the revs occasionally spike to the redline. There really was nothing like the soundtrack provided by the BMW 6.0-liter V12. Without any turbochargers, it made a mellifluous, almost frightening bark. However, Hakkinen hadn’t received the memo, as he confuses the gearbox whine for an imaginary turbocharger (3:17).
Wrestling With the Enemy
However, the rival car did sport a set of turbochargers. From the passenger seat of the snarling F40, the V8’s snarl is punctuated by chirps of the dump valves and the howl of the tires. Hakkinen’s flicks of opposite lock on a narrow, semi-public road has to be admired. Despite his relaxed air, Hakkinen was always deadly serious about driving. That showed every time he stepped in a car—any car.