Mika Häkkinen never really retired from racing so much as he started taking longer and longer sabbaticals. This time, he’s making his reappearance behind the wheel of a McLaren 720S GT3 as he contests the Suzuka 10 Hours endurance race.
It must be pretty nice to be a retired F1 champion. Häkkinen’s been contesting rallies, International Le Mans Cup races, and various touring car series since the early 2000s, claiming in 2008 that he was “retired” while still popping on his helmet and driving on to victory every few years.
As announced today, Häkkinen’s next foray into the racing world will be the Suzuka 10 Hours on August 23-25 alongside two-time Super Formula champion Hiroaki Ishiura and Japanese F3 driver Katsuaki Kubota. The race is part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge series that includes other notable races like the Bathurst 12 Hour and the 24 Hours of Spa.
I, personally, am a big fan of drivers dipping back into the competitive world of racing after claiming their retirement. There’s no truer sign of passion than someone like Häkkinen touring around the world in all kinds of great cars just for the hell of it.
Häkkinen himself is, obviously, pretty stoked. He’s quoted in Motorsport.com as saying the following:
I visited Suzuka Circuit for the first time in 16 years in March 2017 and was able to meet Japan’s enthusiastic fans once again. Then, last year, I drove the [McLaren] MP4/13 and enjoyed Suzuka’s unique figure-of-eight track layout.
So, this year, I decided to return to racing for the first time since the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup round at Zhuhai in November 2011, and I chose Suzuka Circuit as the place for my comeback.
Suzuka was also the place where I won the Formula 1 World Championship for the first time [in 1998] and where I have so many enthusiastic Japanese friends.
Hell yeah, Mika. Hell yeah.