Champion of Champions: Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Champion of Champions

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Champion of Champions: Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve

Mika Hakkinen succeeded Jacques Villeneuve as champion in the 1990s.

But they never went up against each other for the championship – the common thread between this pair was another driver: Michael Schumacher.

Villeneuve made a huge impact on F1 when he first appeared for Williams in 1996. He started his maiden race from pole position and would have won it had his car not suffered an oil leak.

That allowed team mate Damon Hill through to win. Hill beat Villeneuve to the title but not before the Canadian had won four races in his rookie season.

Hill was replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1997 and Villeneuve duly claimed the title after Schumacher’s infamous attempt to take him out at Jerez.

Hakkinen broke his Grand Prix duck in that race – thanks to team mate David Coulthard – and the following year he took Villeneuve’s place as Schumacher’s title rival. He won eight out of 16 races to clinch the championship.

This was the culmination of six years’ work with McLaren. Hakkinen joined the team in 1993 after two seasons with Lotus.

A second title followed in 1999, though Schumacher was taken out of contention halfway through the season when he broke his leg. In 2000 Hakkinen was runner-up in another title duel with Schumacher.

By 2001 his motivation seemed to be sapped and he announced he would be taking a year away from F1. But he never raced in the top flight again.

While Hakkinen endured several trying years at the beginning of his career, Villeneuve went through the same after winning his championship. He left Williams to join the new BAR team in 1999 and the project made excruciatingly slow progress.

After a change of management at the team he left on the eve of the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. He made a partial return at the end of 2004, partnering Fernando Alonso at Renault, before moving to Sauber.

That team became BMW in 2006, and Villeneuve was dropped to make way for Robert Kubica following that year’s German Grand Prix.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Mika HakkinenJacques Villeneuve
Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, 1999Jacques Villeneuve, Williams, 1996
Titles1998, 19991997
Second in title year/sMichael Schumacher, Eddie IrvineMichael Schumacher*
TeamsLotus, McLarenWilliams, BAR, Renault, Sauber, BMW
Notable team matesJohnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, David CoulthardDamon Hill, Olivier Panis, Jenson Button
Wins20 (12.42%)11 (6.75%)
Poles26 (16.15%)13 (7.98%)
Modern points per start18.585.23
% car failures224.2222.70
Modern points per finish311.336.77
NotesStunned Ayrton Senna by out-qualifying him in their first race as team matesFinished on podium on debut and won his fourth race
Recovered from head injuries after crashing at Adelaide in 1995Took title in second season for Williams but never won a race again
Won back-to-back titles for McLaren in 1998 and 1999Failed to score a point in 1999 at beginning of troubled BAR project
BioMika HakkinenJacques Villeneuve

*Placed second in points but disqualified from championship after the season ended. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was promoted from third to second.

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Mika Hakkinen (93%)
  • Jacques Villeneuve (7%)

Total Voters: 688

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Images ?é?® Bridgestone Corporation (Hakkinen), Williams/Sutton (Villeneuve)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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131 comments on “Mika Hakkinen vs Jacques Villeneuve”

  1. When Patrick Head says that Jacques made hard work of what should’ve been an easy title win in 1997, you’ve gotta agree with him.

    Mika for me – probably the only rival Michael Schumacher truly respected (for better or worse).

    1. Having the best car and dominating is not so easy. Vettel is a wonderful driver (much better than Villeneuve) and had the same problem this year.
      But in general I think Hakkinen was far better than Villeneuve.

      1. I do not think Jaques was a very good driver. The way he won in CART at its top and his years at Williams show that.

        The BAR desicion and the years after showed he lost his reason (on par with Emerson Fittipaldi doing his own team) and only recently showed some real racing again in NASCAR.

        But Mika Häkkinen was just a lot better, although he also had a big car advantage his drives were superb and his back to back WDC thoroughly deserved.

        1. Emerson Fittipaldi raced for his brothers team.

    2. Yes, it’s ironic that now he’s slamming Vettel a lot for squandering opportunities, when Jacques probably squandered things a lot more.

      1. A Devil’s advocate might point out here that Vettel has had four full seasons in F1, whereas Jacques came second in his first season, and one it in his second season. He may have made more mistakes that Vettel, – though that is very debatable – but Vettel has had two extra seasons.

        1. Not really, just three. He only raced in the USGP in 2007 as a replacement for Kubica – hardly an entire season.

          1. And he had the second half of 2007 in Toro Rosso, so if we are really fussy, three and a half seasons.

    3. if schumacher did’t respect alonso, would be very stupid of him. He lost twice against him, being 2006 a very deserving victory, no matter what alonso haters say.
      But we are talking about two other great drivers today.
      I voted for mika, because he was fast, didn’t get afected by schumacher tactics, and have better record. Villeneuve was also fast, was also mentaly strong against michael, but when he went to bar couldn’t show what he was capable of, going even worse at renault and sauber. A closer call than i thought, but i go for the finn.

      1. “He lost twice against him”. When was the second time? XDD. He lost only in 2006. 2005 championship was Alonso vs Kimi.

        1. Schumacher drove in that championship too you know! Same holds true for Hakkinen who only defeated Schumacher once since the other title he won against Irvine??? Weird reasoning.

          1. Then Schumacher defeated Alonso three times as well.

      2. the best drivers Schumacher and Alonso seem to hav to biggest haters

        1. Luckily for Fangio all his haters are still communicating by telegraph, rather than using computers.

          1. “Luckily for Fangio all his haters are still communicating by telegraph, rather than using computers.”

            – DVC

            I nominate that for comment of the day!!
            Thanks for lightening the mood man.

    4. Agreed. Hakkinen was my first Formula One hero, but that’s not just why I voted for him. Villeneuve was very overrated, and basically gave up after failing to get a decent car in 1998.

      1. BS he drove amazing in 2000 had a brilliant year. he had the legs on Panis too who was no slouch. he was pretty much on par with button in 03 despite Dave richards massively favouring button (which button re-payed in 04 lol).

        i personally think the melbourne accident effected him and slowed him down.

        JV was a great driver and racer. he just was. but made the wrong decisions, could of gone to mclaren or benetton around 2001-3 and really he should of.

        JV was brilliant in 96, less so in 97, drove a bad car well in 98, kept his head high in 99.and was amazing 00. things slowly went down hill from there.

        Mika was brilliant in 94 96 and 98. and the latter half of 00.

        id plump for mika simply for staying at mclaren. like JV should of stayed at williams. for me that one(massive) decision is all that splits them.

    5. Mika for me too.

  2. Out of these two, Hakkinen was simply better. Villenuve did well at Williams and was decent for BAR in 2000 and 2001, but Villeneuve should have done better throughout his career.

    1. Well.. this choice is not as easy as it seems. Lets not forget that it took Hakinnen ages to get his first win, but Jacques on the other hand, made one of the most stellar rookie entrances in the sport ever (2nd only to hamilton’s entrance). The Williams challenger in 96 and 97 was stellar, but Villenueve showed a lot of grit and maturity to take the title in 97. I think Jacques just screwed up his career by falling for the money, and leaving for a fresh team. After 97, he had no motivation to achieve anything in the sport and just switched off for the rest of his F1 career.

      Mika, on the other hand, started hitting his peak later on in his career, and when he was at his peak, he was awesome. It was a close vote, but I had to go with Mika as well.

      1. Lets not forget that it took Hakinnen ages to get his first win

        In cars that obviously weren’t as good as Villeneuve’s.

  3. Has to be Hakkinen, though I do think Villeneuve gets somewhat unfairly criticised at time.

    JV was undoubtedly a quick driver and despite a complete lack of success with BAR, that wasn’t always his fault. He still put in a number of stunning drives, but the problem was he wasn’t enough of a team leader to drive the team forward. When Panis joined him there in 2001 it effectively undermined any technical input Jacques had and when Button had the beating of him in ’03 it was the final nail in the coffin of his career.

    One thing I always liked about JV was his racing spirit and outspoken nature. He was a true character, something we haven’t really had since he left.

    1. The interesting thing about the Jenson-Jacques relationship for me was that they didn’t get on very well at all at the start of 2003, but were very good mates by the end of the year when Jacques left.

      That said… other than Frentzen, did Jacques definitely beat any of his other teammates? I can’t seem to think of any.

      1. by the end of 1996 he was easily better than Hill. though that was a great year for Hill overall. Villeneuve seemed to be on the cusp of real greatness but never really achieved.

        hakkinen, on the other hand was a true great, fully deserving champion and one of the fastest drivers ever. also, i was at spa watching on the back straight in 2000 and we all know what happened there. hakkinen gets the nod easily.

    2. I always grin when someone says that Button had the best of JV at BAR. If you overlook the multiple DNF’s due to mechanical unreliability, and the fact that the team principal was publicly out to get him. Jacques had some of his best drives in 2000 and 2001, putting that crappy BAR much higher than it deserved, but the vast majority only look at the results to make judgments, not the effort.

    3. …dont forget Juan Pablo Montoya..same mould as JV, a real character, extremely quick, outspoken…but never had his head screwed on straight…my favourite of all time!

      In this battle..its got be Mika. He was as good if not better than Schumacher, and the respectable thing is he’s not a tw*t like Schumacher.

      JV on the other hand, probably made some of the worse career desicions in leaving for BAR, he never had a break after that, eveything just went downhill…with luck and better judgement, JV could have been one of the greats…have to admit, he was a real racer.

      My vote..Mika

  4. One of the hardest choses for me.

  5. Quantum Electrodynamics
    6th January 2011, 10:12

    MIKA MIKA MIKA!!!!!!!!

  6. Hakkinen no doubt, he was blighted by car hydraulic and engine failures in the Schumacher years which, although probably wouldn’t have won him a 3rd title he would’ve been a lot closer and put up more of a fight than DC.

    Jacques, i’m afraid is another Button, wins in a ridiculously quick car but can’t make anything happen when left in a car on par with the rest of the front runners. BUT, Villenueve’s pass on Schumacher at Adelaide was nothing short of brilliant.

    Hakkinen gets my vote.

    1. Estoril, not Adelaide. I had that track on the brain yesterday…

  7. This is very easy for me. Mika got the most out of what he was given. I was always impressed with his race craft and speed.

    JV was good in a good car, but that was it. I’ll remember him for what he did outside of F1 than with F1, like the only driver to drive 505 miles to win the Indy 500.
    I guess that sums JV up though. He always made things difficult for himself.

  8. Mika is really beter then Jacques. Someone who can upset Senna is the beter one for me. He quited way to soon, but he didn’t want to continue but if he did we were talking the same as we do with Schumacher.

    Clearly a easy decision )

    1. Eddie Irvine upset Senna to the point of him getting punched in the face…how does Fast Eddie rank in your list then?

      1. “Eddie Irvine upset Senna to the point of him getting punched in the face…how does Fast Eddie rank in your list then?”

        A lot like JV and JPM, a great unrealized talent, a fierce personality, and an exciting racer that I miss seeing in F1.

  9. On the face of it, a difficult choice, but, when you look further into it, I can’t see past Hakkinen.

    As Keith said, the only common link is Michael Schumacher. JV fought Michael for the title once (maybe twice if you count 1996)… Hakkinen kept him on his heels for 4 years (plus comings together in the lower categories, think Macau…).

    Hakkinen even outqualified Senna on his debut. I think this isn’t as difficult as I first thought.

    Jacques isn’t as good as Gilles in my opinion – just on a side note! Although if Jacques can do well in NASCAR he will be a more complete driver than Gilles.

  10. A tough one but I go for Mika. Jacques Villeneuve always was an under-achiever to me as Mika overcame odds staked against him. And that pass on Michael at Spa is one of the greatest in the history of Fomula One. Mika had real “sisu”.

    1. Agreed, but then Jacques’ move on Michael at Jerez 1996 was also one of the greatest…

      1. Hmmm. Jacques in Estoril 96 was astonishing, but Mika in Spa 2000 was even better, IMHO.

        And I’m speaking as a Schumacher fan.

        1. I agree that Spa 2000 with Hakkinen was better than Jacques in Jerez, I was just sparking an alternate viewpoint! The added variable of Zonta made it all the more astonishing. Imagine sitting in that BAR at that point!

          1. For me Jacques move on Schumacher Estoril 96 was one of the best I have seen, His own engineers warned him against trying it but he used his Indy experience to ride the curve.. And then had to dodge the slower Footwork on the straight. Brilliant……

  11. Hakkinen gets my vote but it was tough deciding.

    I mean Hakkinen didn’t get his first win until 1997, whilst Villeneuve got it in his first season. Granted Hakkinen was at a dying Lotus team and then when he moved to McLaren they were kind of in a transitional period.

    I remember rewatching the 1997 season and thinking where is Hakkinen, he should be in the points more, but it was DC who was. Whilst at the same time Villeneuve was winning races and up there fighting, albeit in a much faster car.

    As for Villeneuve I think he did benefit from a fast car in those first two years, but as we’ve seen many times before, you still need to get the thing to the finish line even if it is a fast car. The only thing that stops me voting for Villeneuve is the way his career started so well and then dropped off so badly, as in the article, he didn’t win another race.

    I’m not sure whether I’m just seeing it as Hakkinen ended his career not too long after his double title wins, and that Villeneuve continued for many years after his title. One ending on a high, the other on a low.

    But still Hakkinen just seemed a more pure driver, and had that concentration that only a few seem to have.

    1. Quantum Electrodynamics
      6th January 2011, 10:45

      and had that concentration that only a few seem to have.


      That said I think Mika is still my all time favorite.

      1. Don’t think that really proves your point. Drivers make mistakes, thats not what I’m talking about.

  12. Mika easily gets my vote. Also has the best pass I ever seen, think was at spa were he passed Scumhi with a back marker sandwiched between the two. Jacques unfortunately ruined the prime of his career stuck at go nowhere BAR. It was good though to have drivers like Jacques about who spoke their mind instead of the usual company BS.

  13. Hakkinen, no doubt. That’s no reflection on Villeneuve’s driving per se as I think he’s a bit underrated, but more of an acknowledgement that one should be able to back up ones words with on-track showing and Hakkinen is well ahead of Villeneuve in that respect.

    Mind you, being a man of few words does help him a little bit ;)

  14. Hakkinen, easily. He was the only man Michael Schumacher was ever afraid of. That’s a massive endorsement, not only for this round, but for the entire competition.

    Plus, he doesn’t have a bald patch or a short-lived career as a singer-songwriter. About the only thing negative that I can say about Hakkinen is that he didn’t stay in the sport longer. It’s a mystery to me why he left he sport. His accident in Australia didn’t help things, but more should have bene one to keep him around.

    1. That’s a massive endorsement, not only for this round, but for the entire competition.

      Very true.

      Plus, he doesn’t have a bald patch or a short-lived career as a singer-songwriter.


  15. JamesC1991 (@)
    6th January 2011, 10:48

    Even not been biased(Big Mika Fan),Hakkinen wins this one hands down.
    Villeneuve managed to win a championship like Button(prepared to be corrected about Williams’ car,started watching in 99),only cause he had the quickest car,he had some good moments after this but not that many.
    Mika well outqualifying Senna on his Mclaren debut,mighty impressive.
    98,drove superbly,would have won it earlier had it not been for car failures.
    99,wasn’t so good but grinded it out in the end.
    2000 I thought was actually his best season but that heartbreaking engine failure in the US cost him but who can forget that pass at Spa,just sensational.
    Facts up there speak for themselves Mika was the better driver so gets my vote obviously.

    1. I’m sorry but this view on Jenson Button that because his car was quick at the beginning of the year means he is not as worthy is frankly complete rubbish.

      So just because Villeneuve and Button won in a quick car, that makes them not as good?! So Sebastian Vettel surely fits into this?!

      Most champions were in the fastest car, thats why they are the champion that year

      1. Most champions were in the fastest car, thats why they are the champion that year

        It depends on the level of advantage the car had over the rest of the field and on how well the driver utilised that car.

        The Brawn was really fastest for the first 7 races and Monza, and Button finished on the podium in all 8, winning 6 of them. He built up enough of a points advantage over the Red Bulls (who caught up performance-wise) to clinch the title in Brazil.

        Vettel scraped the 2010 title, made lots of errors which dropped him points, but at least he lost more points through mechanical faults than he gained through other’s misfortune.

        Villeneuve had the fastest car all season, yet scraped his title over a Ferrari that was a second a lap slower, despite inheriting wins at Silverstone, Hungaroring and Nurburgring.

        In my opinion, Button and Vettel utilised their cars much better than Villeneuve did.

  16. Webber is just like the modern Villeneuve. Webber and Villeneuve both could only win when they had a package that was faster by a country mile. Then Villeneuve stopped having that, and he stopped winning

    1. I think, though harshly put, that is a fair comparison.

      Webber is more of a journeyman though, he has driven for many teams and earnt his place at Red Bull.

      Villeneuve was helped into the Williams drive by a mixture of his IndyCar success and his surname, and couldn’t beat Hill. Then beat Frentzen (who, strangely, went on to beat Hill at Jordan!), in the best car, to take the title.

      I think Hakkinen takes this easily.

  17. I believe Villeneuve has been one of the luckiest F1 drivers ever. He won the title thanks to a enormous mistake by Schumi. If Schumi didn’ turn into the Dry Sack bend, that famous overtake attempt would have finished with a long breaking in the sand. Schumi really kept him in by turning against Villeneuve’s car.
    That day Villeneuve career actually went over. I can’t remember any good spot afterwards.
    Mika has been so quick, so brave, so…gentleman. One of the drivers I missed more when he decided to quit. I always have supported Schumacher, but MIka had all my respect and great estimation.

    1. I don’t agree with that, it was inevitable that Jacques was going to pass at some point. Villeneuve would’ve pulled off that move regardless of Schumacher turning in.


        Stop thi s at 1’11” and see how much Villeneuve was out of the line. If Schumi had let him go he would have easily come out from the bend still in first position.

        1. I’m afraid I still disagree, the actual impact would not have changed his direction so much as to keep him on the track. I respect and admire you finding evidence and it was great to watch it again! But, regardless of that move, it is inevitable that Jacques would have won.

          1. I still disagree but it’s fine to discuss with you.

        2. I have to agree with Ben that he would of passed eventually because he was definitely quicker.. and it was the contact with Shumi that put Jacques offline… the pass was inevitable.. :)

    2. Schumacher himself said that his biggest regret was that he turned in as he would have re-passed Villeneuve going into the next corner. At the time I thought that was a little silly, because Michael was clearly ailing, but I hadn’t thought about it this way before, that Villeneuve could have ended up in the gravel trap and lost the championship. That would have been an epic ending and goes to show how stupid these run-off areas are.

    3. If Schumi didn’ turn into the Dry Sack bend, that famous overtake attempt would have finished with a long breaking in the sand. Schumi really kept him in by turning against Villeneuve’s car.

      That was Schumi’s opinion, but it was and is unprovable. By the same token, Villeneuve was very confident he’d have made the corner and retained the lead.

      If fact, had the pass on Schumi been made without interference and had JV been allowed to win the race, I think the general opinion on Villeneuve as a champion would be somewhat more positive.

      While I’m inclined to agree Hakkinen was the better champion, he made the 1999 title look very difficult, in particular given that he was up against a far less formidable Eddie Irvine. The DNF in Monza was painful to watch.

  18. Very close between them but when Schumacher says that the driver he feared most in his career is Haikkinen you don’t need to have second thought.I really missed him a lot around 2003-2006 very few people in Schumi’s dominating formed have out-think him.In 16 years of his Mika’s racing career only Schumi have achieved more then him.

    Villeneuve comeback haven’t been successful as he even don’t knew which direction he will be going.


      I am wondering with whom will Keith pair up Senna?

      1. If Senna’s as highly ranked as I think he is, he’ll get a Mike Hawthorn or a Denny Hulme in Round 1. Maybe even Jenson Button.

        1. I reckon Emerson Fittipaldi will go out against Senna, both being from Sao Paulo.

          But who knows what surprises Keith has up his sleeve :-)

          1. @ Ben N
            If that is indeed Hamilton you couldn’t ask for better as even Hamilton himself will vote Senna as he is his number 1 fan.I am very confused but I am waiting for that.

  19. I think Jacques making his appearance in ’96 and winning the title in ’97 were great moments in the history of Formula One. Winning the WDC was something that had to be done, not only for himself.

    1. It was nice to see a Villeneuve win the title, but I don’t think he was “doing it for his Dad” – as it were… as with every other champion, he was doing it for himself.

      Jacques was a great driver in his own right – in my opinion, he was fortunate to be in the right car at the right time, but as I said yesterday, there are no lucky champions, and he deserved it.

  20. Mika all the way for me. When I started watching F1 in 1998, for 98 and 99 he was quali king. Ok, he had the best car, but he was still trouncing DC with it. Also Spa 00, I will never forget as long as I live!

    1. Nice memories, I used to love watching the final 2 minutes of qualifying and Hakkinen always (well, nearly always!) pipping the provisional pole sitter to the post!

  21. Thoroughly agree with most of these comments. I always enjoyed watching Mika race but thought that Jacques was not half the man his father was.

  22. On the face of it, perhaps the hardest choice yet for me. But really, it has to be Mika. Both could produce impressive single laps and consistent pace and Villeneuve’s lack of a second title may owe as much to the rule changes of 1998 as Mika’s championships did. Let’s not also forget Mika had Eddie Irvine as a rival in 1999, you’d have expected Schumacher to beat him that year had he not broke his leg. But I feel Mika was a far more complete driver than Villeneuve ever became and if Jacques was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the rule changes came, unlike Mika in McLaren’s mid-1990s slump he didn’t stick it out and went in search of greener grass.

    Someone made a comparison between Villeneuve and Vettel and I think it’s valid, but in a more negative sense that Vettel’s skills will improve but he won’t become a totally complete driver like Alonso or Hakkinen. Now, if those too should meet in this series, that will be a very hard choice.

  23. Some good Hakkinen comments here…

    I miss him!

    (and he definitely gets my vote).

    1. The monosyllabic man. Kimi sounds like a chatterbox in comparison. In every interview I’ve read since he has retired, Mika displays a deadpan sense of humour and refreshing sense of self-deprecation about himself.

  24. I chose Hakkinen on the basis that his career reflects that he got the most out of the car he was given. His championships were deserved and he gave Schumacher a real challenge over the course of 2000. Let’s not forget that had Hakkinen won the championship he would be the first driver to win three consecutive championships since Fangio. That fact alone is enough to sweep aside Villeneuve who, as much as I love him as a personality, was uncompetative against some very average team-mates. Hill and Button whilst both world champions and race winners seemed to have an answer every time against him and neither would be considered great. I completely agree with Patrick Head that Villeneuve made an easy championship look more difficult, the 97 Williams was the class of the field whereas, Hakkinen’s championships had much closer rivals technically and that was proven from 2000 on.

  25. Mika for me as well. A Bit surprised he’s so far ahead in votes though. Expected Jaques to do a bit better. Well i just feel Mika was one of the best drivers in F1 history possibly top 10 for me. There carears totally contrasted as Mika spent the early part of his caear in the wilderness while Villeeuve went right of the radar after winning the title

  26. It has to be Mika.

    I still rate his qualifying lap at Monaco, 1994 as the most impressive single lap I have ever seen (and that includes Senna’s 1993 Donington first lap extravaganza!).

    Exceptional talent.

  27. Mika Hakkinen without even a trace of doubt. Hakkinen had some notable drives for Lotus, outqualified no one other than Senna in his first qualifying session for McLaren, survived a horrifying accident in Adeladide and won two championships later, being a most fearsome career opponent for Michael Schumacher, as admitted by the man himself. They raced each other for more than a decade in various categories.

    Villeneuve doesn’t come close, i’m afraid. Never won a single race in a car that was not dominant. Though he’s was a great character, not a match for those PR-muppets these days.

  28. I went for Mika but I do think Jacques is underrated. His early years in F1 were very similar to Hamilton’s. I just think he made a bad decision when he switched teams and that he always was a very good driver. Mika was much better in my eyes but I always feel Jacques is one of the underrated champions who really gets more stick than he deserves.

  29. It’s gotta be Mika. I bet even his singing is better than Jacques’.

  30. Has to be Hakinnen for me, any driver who drove for the original team lotus always has a soft spot in my heart :)

    But aside from that, the numbers show it all. And justv as important for me, is that hakinnen came to Mclaren when they were basicly at a low, and build the team back uo to their winning ways after Senna left. Villeneuve couldn’t do the same at BAR (even though he probably had a harder time of it because it was a totally new team, then hakinnen did)

    Both lost their motivation after a few years though, so whoever wins, I can’t see either of them going much further then the next round…

  31. Hakkinen. Because he worked very hard for his titles, having quite a few bad years in McLaren behind him and because he proved to be a real challenger for everyone he faced, be it Schumacher or Senna. Villeneuve was just dropped into one of those all-conquering Williamses. He never again had such superior car and never again showed the spark of a champion to be ultimately put out of business by Robert Kubica.

  32. Im picking Hakkinen because IMHO Jacques was nowhere near Hakkinen in skill. Michael Schumacher himself said that Hakkinen was the rival that he respected the most, and that means alot. I’m definitely biased though, as I’m Finnish and Hakkinen is in my Top 3 favorite drivers ever.

    1. behind keke and kimi i suppose.

      1. lol no… Keke defo aint in my top 3 as I have not watched enough races of him to be a big fan of him.

  33. Mika gets my vote by a mile and a half. He was one of the best racers of the period.

    On the other hand I think Jacques was still a very quick driver, but not enough of a worker as Hakkinen and Schumacher were. On the other hand again (my 3rd hand), I think DC is being put down a bit too much here, he was a very quick driver as well.

    Despite voting for Mika, I’ll point out that Jacques soundly beat H.H Frentzen, who is isn’t exactly a slouch.

  34. And in the next year Frentzen beat Villeneuve, isn’t it? If you take the first 2 years away from Villeneuve he looks like a very bad driver. If someone started to watch F1 from 1998 and you’d tell him that he was champion, he wouldn’t believe you, and that’s bad for him.
    And I think Hakkinen is one of the best drivers I saw in F1.

  35. Hakkinen. I was a fan since the Macau GP days of this driver. He really made the sub par Lotus and Mclare shine in the early years. However, he lost some of his edge after the Adelaide crash, in 1995. The pre 1995 Hakkinen wasn’t affraid to take risks, drove spectacularly and made fantastic passes. That Hakkinen was great on the rain, also. The after 1995 Hakkinen, however, was much less risk taking, and in the rain was simply outclassed by Schumacher. I remember a British GP Hakkinen was leading, then rain came up and Schumacherjust catched up and passed from a more than 10 seconds gap.

    Still, the better driver vs Villeneuve, IMO

  36. …well judging by the first page of comments i’m voting a different way to most people. My vote goes to Villeneuve.

    This was, however, an extremely difficult decision, but it comes down to a few points. Villeneuve was like a childhood hero for me, so that probably sways it a bit too.

    His first two seasons were exceptional – we must remember that while he made hard work of the championship in 1997, he also destroyed his teammate Frentzen, despite Frentzen being touted as the man who was faster than Michael Schumacher. Villeneuve took hill to the last race in Suzuka as well, despite Hill being the number 1.

    Despite making poor decisions (he had the option to go to McLaren in 1998…!), Villeneuve never gave up in his career. He raced hard and raced like a racer. Bold overtaking manoeuvres, massive do or die crashes (at Eau Rouge for example). Hakkinen was great between 1998-2000 – but was simply good for the earlier part of his career. As another poster has mentioned, it was Coulthard in 1997 who was leading McLarens charge. Villeneuve put in some astounding performances between 1998 and the end of his career that largely went unnoticed, but they were incredible nonetheless given the equipment. Had he made a few different decisions in his career, Mika might never have been a world champion.

    This of course is not to underestimate Mika as a driver, as he was exceptional, but for me Villeneuve gets it.

    1. I didn’t know that Villeneuve had the option of going to McLaren in ’98. Wonder who Ron Dennis would have dropped, the driver he helped rehabilitate or the driver who led the charge for McLarren for the two previous seasons.

      1. I have looked for a source, but unfortunately I can’t find one. I’ve read it a few times though.

        Its very interesting to think about who Ron would have dropped. Probably Coulthard – as I suppose he would have gone back to Williams. If it had been Hakkinen, this debate wouldn’t be ongoing! F1 is if spelt backwards I suppose :P

  37. definitely Mika Hakkinen, best racer I have known.

  38. Both drivers for me were excellent. I was always a Jacques fan but supported both of them through their championship years. For me the two memories that swing it were at Spa and Monaco respectively.

    The move that Mika pulled in Spa in 2000 firing down the inside of both Zonta and Schumacher into Les Coombes is the stuff dreams are made of. It send tingles down the spine just thinking about it. They had arrived at that breaking point lap after lap with Michael positioning his car beautifully. That time around I was on my feet screaming “right! go right!”…

    The second was in 1999 in a hotly contested qualifying. Yellow flags were the driving force that day but Mika’s lap was supreme. The shot of him arriving into Rascasse, one arm flashing out of the cockpit to acknowledge the flag, the silver McLaren poised slightly sideways on the very limit was beautiful to see.

    Despite being a big JV fan through 06 and 07 I have to vote for Mika. Great match up though Keith.

  39. Hakkinen no question, one of the most exciting racers throughout his career, and to have Schumacher’s respect and “fear” is not to be overlooked.

    Hakkinen also had to build the team and car around him (along with DC) to get into the fighting position, and then took the fight to Schumi in spectactular fashion.

    Villeneuve is undoubtedly quick and, as previously pointed out, could have been so much better but for different decisions and more focus. But, ultimately, he was dropped into a conquering car and then failed to make any positive mark or build a team thereafter.

  40. To all the people who criticise Jaques Villeneuve for being in a faster car than Schumi, where was Frentzen?

    Hakkinen’s McLaren was also incredible and gave him a massive advantage in 98, in the first two GPs they lapped the field, not even the Red Bulls did that!
    In 1999 he made all sorts of errors and if Schumi didn’t get injured Mika may not have won in 1999. He got rattled by Irvine despite having a faster car.

    I do think Villeneuve’s post Williams years were very poor. Estoril 96 though was one of the best wins I’d ever seen, and I was a Hill fan.

    1. I do think Villeneuve’s post Williams years were very poor. Estoril 96 though was one of the best wins I’d ever seen, and I was a Hill fan.

      Looking back maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration.

    2. “To all the people who criticise Jaques Villeneuve for being in a faster car than Schumi, where was Frentzen?”

      He was 3rd after Villeneuve and Schumacher with 42 points. However, Eddie Irvine, who was Schumacher’s team mate at the time, was 8th with 24 points.

      1. What does Irvine’s performance to Schumacher have to do with Villeneuve or Hakkinen? To be fair Irvine had awful reliability and Schumacher was arguably at the peak of his considerable powers.

        1. Don’t be ridiculous. What does Frentzen’s performances have to do with Villeneuve or Häkkinen?

          You argued that Villeneuve wasn’t in a faster car than Schumacher, because Villeneuve’s team mate Frentzen was slower than Schumacher and Villeneuve.

          I argued that Villeneuve indeed was in a faster car than Schumacher, because Schumacher’s team mate Irvine was slower than Schumacher and Villeneuve and Frentzen.

          It’s that simple. If your argument was valid, then my argument has to be valid also.

          P.S. In the seventeen GP’s of 1997 Eddie Irvine outqualified Schumacher only once. Also, there were nine GP’s in 1997 in which both Schumacher and Irvine were able to finish and Schumacher got a better result every time. But sure, it was all because of Irvine’s “awful reliability”.

          1. do not fight. mika was better, but villeneuve was a good driver as well.
            He didn’t get along with patrick head, and that’s the reason why he said what he said.
            As a personality, i hope we all agree that jaques was miles ahead…

          2. You argued that Villeneuve wasn’t in a faster car than Schumacher, because Villeneuve’s team mate Frentzen was slower than Schumacher and Villeneuve.

            Hardly, my point was that he destroyed Frentzen (who, at the time, was so highly rated Williams dropped the man who won the WDC the year before).
            And then I stated “Hakkinen’s McLaren was ALSO incredible” which implies Villeneuve’s Williams was incredible (Adrian Newey TM). But incredible car or not, he destroyed a highly rated driver in the same car.
            My other point was that Hakkinen’s car in 1998 was also faster than Schumacher, just like Villeneuve’s was in 1997, at times even more so. This was in relation to people who think Mika was ‘miles better’ than JV, who was only in his 2nd year of F1 at the time.

  41. easy one here even from Canada eh! Mika Hakkinen.

  42. Hakkinen did supremely well to win his two WDC, especially considering he was well out-performed by soon-to-be-compliant DC in 1997.

    Jacques however suffered from stupendously bad judgement – who honestly (apart from Craig Pollock) thought BAR would be winning races straight off?

    Under other circumstances I would have voted for JV, but as Hakkinen was one of the few to go head-to-head with The Schu and win consistently, he gets it.

    1. let’s not forget that the williams in 1998 was not very good after renault’s departure.
      If he didn’t get a chance to get into a mclaren his best option was to stay at williams for even less money that he was getting, and having to deal with head, with whom he didn’t get along. Or he had the chance to start from scratch at bar, in a nice working enviroment, making more than 10 mill a year. And hope for the best.
      Bad judgement you said. In retrospect maybe yes, but remember he didn’t have a cristal ball at the time.

  43. Villeneuve and Hakkinen both started off in a big way. Hakkinen doing well in the crappy Lotus then outqualifying Senna at McLaren.
    Villeneuve arrived at Williams in 1996 and drove rings around Damon Hill and Schuey until he had a very convenient oil pressure problem at the last Grand Prix, allowing Hill to win it.

    What Villeneuve was really worth we’ll never know, since he spend the rest of his career dragging some silly cars around, while Hakkinen stayed in a pretty decent McLaren. But I’m pretty sure Villeneuve is a lot better than most people imagine.

    I would not be able to choose between them.

    1. JV hardly drove rings around Hill who beat him… And Schumacher in those F310? JV didn’t even beat him in the manner he should have.

  44. For me this was the most difficult decision yet.
    Lokking at the stats, Mika should win it. Also when he stunned Senna in qualifying it was a great moment. But talking about making an impact, Villeneuve is on of the drivers that made the biggest of them all! He should have won his first ever race, and I reckon he’s the only rookie that was closer to being the champion of the recent years (I admit that my knowledge about F1 prior to the late 80s is not good).
    Also Hakinnen was a very deserving champion but he was in the F1 for some time.

    Mika wins this in the end I will say, but I think a harder decision.

    Villeneuve was also one of my preferred drivers, but it’s career slump prevents me from voting in him.

  45. Hakkinen, however neither driver ever won in a car that wasn’t the pace-setter expect mika in jerez 97 but that was a political gift, MH of 98-00 was of the class of a top 10-15 driver ever but i think he’ll go out in round 2. JV done well against Hill in 96 (Hill if im honest looking back was quite under-rated i think )and delivered what was expected in 97 but another one hit wonder sadly.

    Who do we rate as the best one time champ – rindt, andretti, mansell, hamilton?? I think JV is close to bottom of the 32 champions.

    1. For me, Vettel. Hamilton will win more ;)

  46. Hakkinen gets my vote, more consistent and blindingly fast. Villeneuve was also very quick but his poor judgement took him to BAR and he never recovered afterwards

  47. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    6th January 2011, 16:27

    Mika… I was reading some comments about Vettel, alonso, even Kimi… but this is only about Mika and Jacques, and even when Villeneuve was talented, he didn’t take the best of it when he ventured into the BAR project.

  48. As much as I’d like to vote for Villeneuve, this one’s a no-brainer for Hakkinen. Stats don’t lie, particularly in this case.

    I was always a Villeneuve fan and followed him in Indy cars before he made it to F1. I think he is under-rated by a lot of people, but I don’t think he did himself any favors either. His move to BAR was a career killer. If he’d been able to stay in a good team, he might have been able to do something. But, BAR was a dead end.

    As for Hakkinen, all respect to him. He is a classy guy. He made the most of his opportunities; it’s too bad he didn’t have a few more chances in the early portion of his career.

  49. My vote goes for Mika, but he had a “double sided” career. His first part was rich of mistakes, I remember he was called “empty helmet”, but he recovered from a terrible accident and became a great driver.
    Anyway far better than Villeneuve, that was there mainly for his surname: when he started in italian F3 was a big disaster but had the chance to go on and find sponsors thanks to the memory of his father, many other divers would have been just discarded.

  50. I started watching F1’s at the age of 5 in ’98, and although i couldn’t quite make a full race with out falling asleep and I didn’t watch all the races, Mika was my hero. I remember going to the Grand Prix with my dad and he would where a Schumacher hat and I would wear a Mika hat. And as a five year old, who only had one game on his Nitendo 64 (F-1 World Grand Prix (’98)) I remembered Mika always being my favourite driver.
    I didn’t start to become obsessed with F1 until ’08 and I had no idea that Villeneuve was a World Champion until 2009 when I was surfing the net. Now too me that really said something about Villeneuve and his reputation among the field, so I’m not one to judge my opinion based on skill as I am unfamiliar with his early years but from the impact he gave me, it is not nearly on the same level as Mika’s status.

  51. Mika Hakkinen was the first driver I saw crowned champion when I started watching in 1998 when I was 6. Got to say he stood out more than Villeneuve (who to be honest I never noticed!) so Hakkinen gets my vote.

  52. Mika was better than Jacques, and a driver that many have already stated Michael respected…..maybe Michael remember’s the race at Spa in 2000, and that fantastic move made by Mika.

  53. Not the two greatest of them all, but Mika takes this one pretty easy. Even though Jacques was a natural talent.

  54. doesn’t senna count as a team mate of hakkinens?

  55. I voted today with my hard and not the brain. I saw Jacques grow up. My vote with the young Villeneuve

  56. Mika Hakkinen for this one. But I had to think a lot more about it then you might expect.

    I started watching F1 in 1994, so I’ve seen a lot of both these drivers and from Hakkinen I remember several manouvres (including the famous crying in the wood), which made the sport fun to watch. From Villeneuve I remember less. But maybe I was too preoccupied with other drivers (Verstappen, Schumacher, Hakkinen, to name a few) to take proper notice.

    However, after reading the comments above I started rewondering: What is it, that makes a champion a champion of champions?

    Is it the championships? The (un)easyness with which the championships were put together? The stats? The teammates?

    To me it is about championships and when I thought of this, Villeneuve came close because of the CART championship and the Indy 500. However, he didn’t get his triple crown and CART was not such a big thing in those days, so that’s why I chose Hakkinen, who was clearly superior to Jacques in F1.

    Still, it was a closer call then I expected!

  57. Mika Mika Mika :D

  58. Hakkinen, enough said!

  59. Post-1998, with the exception of 2001, Villeneuve showed everyone that he wasn’t capable of performing in any respectable manner in a car that wasn’t by far the fastest. That’s why Button, Alonso, Massa and Heidfeld all whooped him. Kubica practically matched Villeneuve’s 2006 points tally in half the races JV did, and Sato scored half the points Villenuve did in 15 races of 2003 in one race. Even in his WDC year, he scraped it in the final round because of a silly error on Schumacher’s part and inherited three wins (Silverstone, Hungaroring, Nurburgring) because of unreliability, something that people love bashing Alonso (even when he’s not been given the fastest car) for.

    Hakkinen on the other hand performed admirably in his few races in the same car as one of the legends of the sport and spent the early days of his career dragging the uncompetitive Mclaren-Peugeots into good positions. Then, Mika Hakkinen was given a car capable of fighting for the championship and grasped the opportunity with both hands. Although the 1998 championship went to the final round as well, I feel the Mclaren MP4-13 didn’t have the level of superiority that the FW19 had. Despite this, you couldn’t ever see Mika throwing it away.

    As if Hakkinen hadn’t already easily got my vote, there’s the move on Schumi at Spa 2000, his second title in 1999, his other statistical advantages, his genuinely likeable character (rather than whining Villeneuve), and the fact that he didn’t embarrass himself by thinking he’s a good singer.

  60. I would have loved to have seen Hakkinen vs Schumacher in more equally matched cars. Arguably the 1999 McLaren and Ferrari were quite close but Schumacher was eliminated from the title race that year halfway through.
    I Actually rate Raikkonen and Alonso better than Mika, he made a lot of mistakes and he had some pretty superior machinery at his disposal at time, which he didn’t always make the best use of.
    The same could be said of Jacques. He is not of the same callibre as Hakkinen but I’m reluctant to judge him by his later performances. I never felt he was quite the same driver after his accident in Melbourne which resulted in the death of a marshal.

  61. Blake Merriam
    7th January 2011, 8:29

    My opinion is unashamedly bias, because my cousin was on the pit crew of Villenuve when he was in Indycar before he went to Formula 1. And it was that connection that drew me to Formula 1. The greatest finishing of Villenuve that I saw (and only) was at my first Formula 1 race in Spa 2005 where Villenuve just passed Ralf Schumacher to beat him at the finish line by just tenths of a second.

  62. uhmm… i voted Mika but i think JV is probably the most unfairly critised amongst past f1 champs

  63. Leaving the comparison aside, I think we can credit JV as the most successful in modern motosport in making the transition from North American open wheel to F1.

    And as a character, far more memorable that most champions, let alone Hakkinen.

    I’m still hopeful, although not entirely optimistic, that he’ll make some kind of a come back.

  64. I still miss Mika, he left the sport at the right time for himself, but to early for 1000’s of fans

  65. Not an easy one when you think about it. Villeneuve nearly won the title in his 1st season, did so in his 2nd and things went downhill from there. Truly unique as he had a career in reverse some might say, comparable to Fittipaldi’s. He would have won another title at least had he made the right decisions and didn’t go where the money was. Hakkinen on the other hand took a long time to achieve that 1st win although he had spent the years before at a dying Team Lotus and a Mclaren team that was getting relatively poor results after losing the Honda engines. He finaly got 2 well deserved titles and could’ve gotten a third in 2000 but the Ferraris were too good. Plus he made one of the most spectacular overtaking moves I’ve ever seen at Spa 2000. Long story short I voted The Flying Finn.

  66. there are no competition right?

  67. Raikkonen_Biggest_Fan (@)
    12th January 2011, 20:38

    Definetely Mikka … No wins withouth Fins!!!:D

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