Video: F1 Champ Pushes The Two Best Supercars Ever To The Very Limit

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.

The McLaren F1 had a surprising amount of roll for a supercar, which despite its otherworldly performance was designed to be a daily driver. The hard-charging Hakkinen was happy to demonstrate how to wring the most from the F1.

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.

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About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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