Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2015

Hakkinen urges Nico not to give up on title

Mika Hakkinen talking about the current crop of F1 drivers and his battles with Michael Schumacher in Singapore yesterday.
Mika Hakkinen talking about the current crop of F1 drivers and his battles with Michael Schumacher in Singapore yesterday.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

It seems that, try as he might, Nico Rosberg simply cannot get past his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Such is the Briton's superiority that retired two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen noted yesterday: "Lewis, the way he is, he has the confidence. He has joy in what he's doing, he is at such a high level now.

"He's also very, very mature, a really confident racing driver."

But the Finn also urged Rosberg not to give up. He believes the German needs to persevere if he is to land that elusive first world title.

Hakkinen, 46, told The Straits Times: "It took me seven years to become the world champion.

"That's a long time.

"You've just got to keep going, to keep learning... strengthen your weak areas, motivate yourself."

Hakkinen would know a thing or two about the challenge of beating a dominant driver in a reliable and fast machine.

Twice a world champion (1998 and 1999) during Michael Schumacher's streak of seven drivers' championship titles from 1994 to 2004, the Finn relied on patience and a passion for his craft before he clinched those two titles as a McLaren driver.

He recalled his battles with the legendary German, telling The Straits Times: "Michael was a very complete driver.

"For myself, I found joy in racing, in driving flat out.

"I had passion and motivation, of putting the machine and myself to the limit.

"I was always trying to find something extra."

It was a racing maverick with a rock-star lifestyle who inspired him to always find happiness in the pressure-cooker world of racing.

Hakkinen, who is in town for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix as Johnnie Walker's global responsible drinking ambassador, said: "When I was a rookie, James Hunt (the late 1976 world champion) always told me to enjoy what I was doing in racing.

"He would say, without it, you will not reach your goals."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Hakkinen urges Nico not to give up on title'. Print Edition | Subscribe