As it is the Finnish Independence Day today what better than some stats on all the Finns in F1, from Leo Kinnunen to Heikki Kovalainen. Eight Finns have entered an F1 race, with all but one, Mikko Kozarowitzky, starting at least once race.
Before I start the individual stats, first some combined stats on the Finns. Four of the eight Finns have won a race, 45 wins, 48 poles, 67 fastest laps, 144 podiums and four World Drivers’ Championships. Just 0.97% of F1 drivers have been Finnish but they have won 5.13% of all F1 races. The Finns have won 45 races, 2 more than the 98 Italian drivers that have been in F1. All four of the winning Finns have driven for McLaren at some point in their career.
The first Finn in F1, born in 1943, debuting at the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix. Unfortunately not the best F1 career for Kinnunen, he entered 6 races but only started 1, the 1974 Swedish GP but retiring after just 8 laps with engine problems. Kinnunen only had the one season in F1, but before getting to F1 he was reasonably successful in both rallying and sportscars.
Much like Leo, Mikko didn’t get much luck in F1 either, in 1977 he entered the Swedish and British Grands Prix, failing to qualify in Sweden, partly as he was driving the March 761 for the first ever time that weekend. The British Grand Prix later on was even worse for Kozarowitzky, crashing early on in the weekend and braking his hand, failing to even pre-qualify.
Third time lucky for the Finns, in Keke’s first year of F1 he raced in five different cars for two teams. It wasn’t until his third season in 1980 that Keke started to do well, he finished on the podium in his first race for the Fittipaldi team. For the 1982 season he moved to Williams, finishing on the podium consistently and winning a single race and eventually the championship, by 5 points. In his career he entered 128 races, starting 114 of them but winning just 5, with 5 poles, 3 fastest laps and 17 podiums.
Perhaps not the best F1 career for Lehto, starting at the bottom with Onyx and Scuderia Italia before a season at the new Sauber team and half a season at Benetton in 1994, but in his 6 races as a Benetton driver he only managed a single point, while teammate Schumacher won the title. His best F1 finish came for Scuderia Italia at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix, qualifying 16th but finishing 3rd, but still one lap behind Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. After F1 Lehto performed well at Le Mans, winning it twice and the American Le Mans Series once.
A name everybody knows, possibly the fastest of the Finns, his debut came in 1991 for Team Lotus, a great name but not the great team they once were, having not won a championship since 1978 and being only a few years from collapse. For the 1993 season Häkkinen moved to McLaren as a test driver and after Andretti’s miserable display he took over for the last three races of the season, securing a podium in his second race. But Hakkinen didn’t win a race until the last race of the 1997 season. He holds the record, perhaps not one he’d much like, for the longest time from debut to first win of any WDC, it took him 6 years and 230 days to win a race, Button is just behind, it took him 6 years and 147 days. After his first win he couldn’t stop, winning 13 races and two WDCs in the next two years. At the moment Häkkinen has the most wins, 20, and poles, 26, of all the Finns, but Räikkönen is only a single win behind.
Another Finn without a win, but not too bad a career, driving for seven different teams in his eight year career. Much like Häkkinen, Salo started out at Lotus, driving in the last two races for the team alongside Zanardi. After a lot of moving between teams Salo eventually got into a decent car, replacing the injured Schumacher at Ferrari in 1999 for 6 races, but managing just 2 podiums, 2nd in Germany and 3rd in Italy.
A very fast Finn, Kimi has had the most races of all the Finnish drivers, starting 176 times. Quite amazingly before he signed for Sauber in 2001 he only had 23 car races to his name. After his season at Sauber he moved to McLaren, finishing on the podium in his first race for them. In both 2003 and 2005 Räikkönen finished as championship runner up, just two points down in 2003 despite only winning a single race compared to Schumacher’s 6 wins. After moving to Ferrari for 2007 Kimi was on the podium in his first race yet again, but this time won the race instead of 3rd. After 5 more wins that season he won the championship. Räikkönen holds a few Finnish records, he has the most fastest laps, 37, podiums, 69, and points, 786.
Coming to the last of the Finns now, until 2013 at least, Kovalainen debuted in 2007 for Renault after testing for them the season before, picking up his first podium towards the end of the season , just ahead of Räikkönen. Kovalainen moved to McLaren after his debut season, picking up just a single win and three podiums while driving for them. Unsurprisingly McLaren dropped him after two seasons, forcing him to move to the new Lotus team. In Kovalainen’s career he has started 109 races, the same as Mika Salo, but scored 105 points, as it stands he is the only Finn to have won a race but not the championship.