The Spanish Grand Prix is oft-maligned for producing processional Formula One races. And yet somehow the Circuito de Catalunya in Barcelona has also provided some historic F1 moments. Few, for example, will forget Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna’s wheel-to-wheel duel down the main straight in 1991 or Michael Schumacher’s first win for Ferrari in appalling conditions in 1996.
Mika Hakkinen provided one too in 2001. The F1 season may only have been four races old as the teams descended on Barcelona but the Finn was not having a good year, with fourth-place his best result. Come raceday though, Hakkinen dominated proceedings, and as he started his final lap, the two-time F1 World Champion led second-placed Schumacher by 40s.
Victory was in his pocket. But entering turn three, Hakkinen slowed dramatically as the McLaren’s transmission gave out. Coasting to a halt, the Finn finally pulled off-track as a fortuitous Schumacher swept past to record his third win of the season with just half a lap left to run. Reticent in such cruel defeat, Hakkinen hitched a lift back to the pits from team-mate David Coulthard. By year-end, the Finn’s time in F1 was done.