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    It's Not About the Car: Mika Hakkinen

    How do you see F1 taking off in India?Mika Hakkinen: It’s up to you guys how you do it. Cricket is very big and you guys did a good job. But this is a new sport and has huge publicity and a huge following around the world. How you organise the Grand Prix for the fans, for the teams, for the drivers depends… this is your shot. I would not recommend a mentality that says, ‘Oh we have a Grand Prix, that’s nice’.How has the sport changed over the years?Mika Hakkinen: Regulations are changing, people are changing. They are getting more professional, they study more about the sport. Drivers who are 16-17 years old have information about tracks, their computers analyse the whole car, they [have] become much more developed on the technical side.On your rivalry with Michael Schumacher…Mika Hakkinen: He was very tough. He was beating me, I was beating him. We had a great history. We started racing against each other in 1984. He was always very tough to beat, with a very aggressive driving style with only one goal in his mind: To be a winner. Perfect. I liked it. It motivated me.What went through your mind when you overtook Michael Schumacher at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2000?Mika Hakkinen: It was quite an amazing situation. Over many laps, I had tried to overtake Michael at the same spot. We had had quite a fight earlier [in the previous race] and not necessarily a fair one. But it was racing and I got a bit upset. So I started taking more risks to overtake him.The corner before that straight stretch, with that moment when the tyres are almost finished and the car has done over 200 km, I took the big risk at the corner at nearly maximum speed. I managed to do it. Luckily, I saw the Brazilian driver who was going slow in the middle of the track. I thought, ‘Ya, I got a chance here’. I wasn’t sure if Michael would overtake from the right or left and he decided to go on the left. There was only one option left and I went to the right and it worked wonderfully. It was a fantastic feeling.How important is mental fitness in a sportsman’s life?Mika Hakkinen: You just have to be very tough with your mind. You experience massive disappointments in Formula One. Things don’t go right, or the way you want them to; 80 percent of the time it is failure. If it’s a rainy day, you have to tell yourself, ‘Ah maybe tomorrow it’ll be a sunny day’. You can’t say, ‘It will be a rainy day tomorrow as well’.What happened in Monza in 1999 that made you break down?Mika Hakkinen: Before that Grand Prix, I was terribly ill, but I didn’t want to say anything. It sounds like an excuse. I made a mistake and that made me very upset. Because I knew what was wrong with me, I was not giving my 100 percent. But the people didn’t know it. And if I told the media, ‘Hey, my nose is running today and I am not going to do well this week’, it’s not very clever, is it?