The 1995 Australian GP: Mika Hakkinen’s Near Fatal Crash
The 1995 Australian GP
The 1995 Australian GP was a no consequence race as Schumacher had already become the world champion two races ago and signed up with Ferrari. Also, Benetton had won the constructors title in the penultimate race at Suzuka. So, the Australian GP was just another race in the calendar to finish the season.
Of course, it was still a matter of pride to win and end the season on a high note. That’s how all the racers started the 1995 season, but alas, only eight would finish the race. And the race leader, Damon Hill would be two laps ahead of the second-placed car. That was a race of attrition.
However, the misfortune was not only on the race day but even during the practice session, which was nearly fatal for Mika Hakkinen.
Did You Know?
At the end of the 1995 season, Schumacher signed up to join Ferrari for the 1996 season.
Interestingly, Berger and Alesi who were with Ferrari for the 1995 season, joined Benetton for the 1996 season, and thus, ended up swapping places and team with Schumacher.
The 1995 Australian GP Qualifying
While the race result was inconsequential, everyone gave their best to win the race. So, did Mika Hakkinen. However, during his qualifying run, the rear tire burst and caused Mika to lose control at a corner where cars did 200 kmph. The resulting out-of-control car flipped Mika’s head from one end to another before hitting the barrier hard.
Take a look at the video.
Suggestion: The video is in another language. Advice readers to watch the instance Mika loses control after the tire burst from 0:42 minutes.
The crash came at a time when memories of Senna's accident were still ripe, and that did raise apprehensions, across the board. Back in 1995, Mika was a lesser-known driver as compared to the two-time world champion that he is now. Despite that, Mika’s well-being was of critical importance not only for his family but also the fans and F1 in general.
Fortunately for Mika, the place of his crash had doctors right next to the barriers and hence help arrived fast; this was very different from Senna's accident site where it took the doctors a while to come. In fact, even the hospital was just close by, so not only help but Mika's treatment could start soon.
So, what happened to Mika?
Most of the details of the accident came out a few hours later. Mika’s skull was cracked and he was subsequently in induced coma for the treatment. It was a long recovery from there but something Mika conquered and was soon back on track.
Here is Mika talking about the accident and his own recovery thereafter:
Mika, interestingly, mentions about being always on the throttle and wanting to go fast, and how this accident taught him to slow down. Talking about Mika’s debut race in 1993, we had observed the same thing about him and how he was continually attacking Alesi before crashing out. Here is a snapshot of the 1993 Portuguese GP, Mika’s debut GP.
Mika, thankfully, recovered and joined back, and went on to win the 1998 and 1999 drivers titles. No wonder his learnings from his 1995 crash earned him the nicknames of “Ice-cool” and “Flying-Finn” which, on close observation, are opposites. So, Mika did figure out to remain calm and collected while channelling his energy the right way to fly across the track!
What a racer!
Did You Know?
Had Mika finished his debut race in the 1993 Portuguese GP, he would have been one of only four drivers in the history of F1 to have won a race on debut; a distinction even Michael Schumacher did not enjoy.
However, that was not-to-be.
Back to the Garage
Mika was a racer who learnt from his misfortune (a tire burst cannot be called a mistake) and used it in the right way to move forward to conquer the F1 track. In doing so, the world witnessed him taking over one of the biggest names in F1 history, Michael Schumacher, and coming out trumps.
Not only did he win against Schumacher, but also earned Schumacher’s respect; a driver par excellence!
Mika the “ice-cool” “flying-Finn”!
© 2020 S K