[UPDATE: Mika Hakkinen qualified in 7th position for Race 1, so still getting up to speed in the car. Matt Solomon qualified in 3rd place for Race 2 but he’s competing against all the other lower-ranked drivers, whereas Hakkinen’s times are compared against the pros. Hakkinen will start Race 1 and hand over to Solomon roughly half way through, and they will swap shifts in Race 2 on Sunday, with Solomon starting. UPDATE 2: AF Corse’s Ferrari was bumped to last on the grid for having an illegal exhaust, so Hakkinen starts in 6th on Saturday, while Solomon will start in 2nd]
I got the chance to interview two-time F1 world champ Mika Hakkinen in Zhuhai yesterday. He is there in his role as brand ambassador for AMG, but this time’s he’s actually racing. For the first time in two years – his last competitive race was also in Zhuhai – Hakkinen will take part in the GT Asia series, partnering with 17-year-old Hong Kong driver Matt Solomon.
Apart from the fact that he is one of only a handful of names that almost all sports fans of a certain age would recognize (excluding the US), what struck me is the passion he still has for the sport. Prior to the morning practice session, he was watching qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix in Japan with some of the other drivers and more than once was out of his seat screaming at the screen.
For a qualifying session.
There’s not many people I know who would be out of their seat while watching the race proper, let alone a Friday practice session. OK, maybe I’m being unfair, but age – Hakkinen is now 45 – certainly hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm, and the tiny details he picked up on was equally impressive.
Race updates as they happen throughout the weekend…