As a racing class, Formula 1 stands on its own. Referred to as the pinnacle of motorsport, it draws in the greatest amount of money and obtains the highest visibility in the global media. These factors, in turn, reinforce that status. The drivers are idolised as heroes, and thousands of motorsport enthusiasts aspire to be offered a place with a Formula One team. Only a few are chosen, though: each season, only about two dozen drivers are allowed to enter the battle for pole position.
The competition for a drive with an F1 team is tough, and the select few are those who have proved themselves to be very special individuals indeed, top athletes who bring something unique. They must be able to race their competitors, side by side, through the curves and straights of dangerous circuits at speeds that reach more than 300 kilometres per hour. There is simply no room for error.
For some unfathomable reason, Finland, a country with not many more than five million inhabitants, has a massive-sized ability to produce these formula gladiators who have nerves of steel, no fear, and plenty of resolve – even a dash of obstinacy. A newcomer to the Williams team, Valtteri Bottas gives Finland its ninth pilot in Formula 1. Three of the drivers contributed by Finland have even been crowned World Drivers' Champion through the years: Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Häkkinen, and Keke Rosberg.
Finnish Formula 1 drivers
Kimi Räikkönen (F1 pilot in 2001–). World Champion 2007. Teams: Lotus, Ferrari, McLaren, Sauber. Wins 20, podium finishes over 70
- Mika Häkkinen (F1 pilot in 1991–2001). World Champion: 1998, 1999. Teams: McLaren, Lotus. Wins 20, podium finishes 51
- Keke Rosberg (F1 pilot in 1978–1986). World Champion 1982. Teams: McLarenWilliams, Fittipaldi, Wolf, ATS, Theodore. Wins 5, podium finishes 17
- Nico Rosberg (dual citizenship of Finland and Germany) (F1 pilot in 2006–). Teams: Mercedes, Williams. Wins 2, podium finishes 7
- Valtteri Bottas (F1 pilot in 2013–). Team: Williams. The 9th Finn in the F1 class
- Heikki Kovalainen (F1 pilot in 2007–2012). Teams: Caterham, Lotus, McLaren, Renault. Wins 1, podium finishes 4
- Mika Salo (F1 pilot in 1993–2000, 2002). Teams: Toyota, Sauber, Ferrari, BAR, Arrows, Tyrrell, Lotus. Podium finishes 2
- JJ Lehto (F1 pilot in 1989–1994). Teams: Benetton, Sauber, Scuderia Italia, Onyx Grand Prix. Podium finishes 1 - Leo Kinnunen (F1 pilot in 1974). Team: AAW Racing
Text: Sami Laakso
Photos: Wikimedia, Istockphoto, Lehtikuva