Form 1 | 1996: Hakkinen remembers his first meeting with Hamilton


When he was a child, McLaren-Mercedes protege Lewis Hamilton took as one of his models Mika Hakkinen, double world champion Woking. From now on, the Briton has far surpassed the Finn at the top of F1, with 6 world titles.

"I remember meeting Lewis Hamilton for the first time in 1996 at the Autosport Awards in London" Mika Hakkinen recalls today.

"He was 11 years old and was already a karting champion. He was young, ambitious and clearly talented, so much so that Ron Dennis later decided to have him join the McLaren Academy and take him through all the steps to F1. "

"23 years later, winning his sixth World Championship title is a huge achievement for him. I was happy to be in Austin to witness his success. I know how difficult it is to win two titles, so six shows how incredibly talented he is; it also shows the consistency Mercedes has had in providing a truly competitive car every season. It's a remarkable association, and Lewis has made the most of it. "

Mika Hakkinen, in his praise, does not forget to pay homage to his countryman Valtteri Bottas, who again proved his speed in Austin.

"I have always said that teamwork is an essential part of Mercedes' success. And for this weekend that saw Lewis win this title, it was great to see such a performance from Valtteri Bottas, as strong and impressive. "

"He really put his mark on this Grand Prix, signing a very good pole on Saturday and leading a perfect race on Sunday. He optimized the team's strategy to ensure victory. Valtteri has now won 4 races in 2019, this is his strongest season so far, and it shows superbly how much he has progressed. "

"It was good for Toto Wolff, the team manager as well. Toto knows he can count on the strongest driver pair in F1 at the moment. The team can now focus on achieving similar success next year. I'm sure Mercedes will be the team to beat again. "

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