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The Most Famous

RACING DRIVERS from Finland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Finnish Racing Drivers. The pantheon dataset contains 888 Racing Drivers, 26 of which were born in Finland. This makes Finland the birth place of the 11th most number of Racing Drivers behind Argentina and Switzerland.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Finnish Racing Drivers of all time. This list of famous Finnish Racing Drivers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Finnish Racing Drivers.

Photo of Mika Häkkinen

1. Mika Häkkinen (1968 - )

With an HPI of 62.43, Mika Häkkinen is the most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 56 different languages on wikipedia.

Mika Pauli Häkkinen (Finnish: [ˈmikɑ ˈhækːinen] (listen); born 28 September 1968), nicknamed "The Flying Finn", is a Finnish former racing driver. He won the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in 1998 and 1999, both times driving for McLaren. Häkkinen is one of three Formula One drivers from Finland that have won the World Drivers' Championship, and the only one to have done so more than once. He currently works in driver management and is a brand ambassador for various companies. Häkkinen began his career in karting at the age of five and achieved success by winning regional and national kart championships. He progressed to car racing when he entered the Formula Ford and Formula Three series in Italy and the United Kingdom. After success in the series, Häkkinen entered Formula One in 1991 with the Team Lotus where he remained until 1992. The following year, he moved to McLaren as test driver before he was promoted to the race team following the departure of Michael Andretti. After four years which yielded minor success, Häkkinen scored his first Formula One victory in 1997. He went on to win eight races of the 1998 season, securing the World Drivers' Championship at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix; his success also helped McLaren secure the World Constructors' Championship. He repeated his World Championship success in 1999, taking five victories. He finished as runner-up in the Drivers' Championship in 2000, behind Michael Schumacher and secured two more victories in 2001 before announcing a sabbatical from the sport, which became full-time retirement in mid-2002. For 2005, Häkkinen moved to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) series, where he secured his first victory that year. His form faded during 2006 although he secured two more victories in 2007. He retired from top-level active motorsport at the end of 2007, and subsequently moved into driver management along with becoming a brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker and Mercedes-Benz AMG.

Photo of Kimi Räikkönen

2. Kimi Räikkönen (1979 - )

With an HPI of 61.35, Kimi Räikkönen is the 2nd most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.

Kimi-Matias Räikkönen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈkimi ˈmɑtiɑs ˈræi̯kːønen]; born 17 October 1979), nicknamed "The Iceman", is a Finnish racing driver who competed in Formula One between 2001 and 2021 for Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, and Alfa Romeo. Räikkönen won the 2007 Formula One World Championship while driving for Ferrari; he also managed to finish second overall twice and third three times. Räikkönen is the most successful Finnish Formula One driver by several metrics, and has the fifth-most podium finishes (103), third-most fastest laps (46), and second-most race starts (349) in Formula One history. He is known for his reserved personality and reluctance to participate in public relations. Räikkönen entered Formula One as a regular driver for Sauber-Petronas in 2001, having previously competed in just 23 car races. He joined McLaren-Mercedes in 2002, and quickly established himself as a title contender by finishing runner-up in the championship to Michael Schumacher in 2003, and Fernando Alonso in 2005. Räikkönen's time at McLaren was marred by a succession of unreliable cars, prompting a move to Ferrari in 2007. This change saw him crowned Formula One World Drivers' Champion in his first season, pipping both McLaren drivers—Lewis Hamilton and Alonso—to the title by one point. In 2008, he equalled the record for the greatest number of fastest laps in a season for the second time. Räikkönen left both Scuderia Ferrari and the sport after the 2009 season, his sole victory that year having come in that season's Belgian Grand Prix due to driving an uncompetitive Ferrari F60. On his return to Formula One, Räikkönen drove for Lotus in 2012 and 2013, scoring the team's only victories. In September 2013, Ferrari announced his re-signing on a two-year contract, beginning in the 2014 season. This contract was subsequently extended until the end of the 2018 season. During his second Ferrari stint, Räikkönen scored 26 podiums, two pole positions, and a victory at the 2018 United States Grand Prix, 113 Grands Prix after his last victory. Räikkönen finished among the top four overall in the championship on multiple occasions during his second Ferrari stint, finishing his total eight-year long Ferrari career with a third place in the 2018 championship. Räikkönen left Ferrari at the end of the 2018 season, and moved to Alfa Romeo Racing on a two-year contract, later extending it until the end of 2021, after which he retired from Formula One. In the World Rally Championship, Räikkönen drove a Citroën C4 WRC for the Citroën Junior Team in 2010, and a Citroën DS3 WRC for ICE 1 Racing in 2011. His stint in the WRC saw him beat some more experienced rally drivers with a best result of fifth, a stage win and 10th in the championship in both seasons. Concurrently, Räikkönen also competed in NASCAR, making one-off appearances in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series in 2011, and the Cup Series in 2022. Forbes magazine listed Räikkönen 36th in their 2008 "Celebrity 100" as the 26th highest paid celebrity and fifth highest paid sportsman. The same list in 2009 recorded him as the second highest-paid athlete.

Photo of Hannu Mikkola

3. Hannu Mikkola (1942 - 2021)

With an HPI of 59.45, Hannu Mikkola is the 3rd most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Hannu Olavi Mikkola (24 May 1942 − 25 February 2021) was a Finnish champion world rally driver. He was a seven-time winner of the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland and won the RAC Rally in Great Britain four times.

Photo of Ari Vatanen

4. Ari Vatanen (1952 - )

With an HPI of 59.14, Ari Vatanen is the 4th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Ari Pieti Uolevi Vatanen (pronounced [ˈɑri ˈʋɑtɑnen] (listen); born 27 April 1952) is a Finnish rally driver turned politician and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1999 to 2009. Vatanen won the World Rally Championship drivers' title in 1981 and the Paris Dakar Rally four times. In addition, Vatanen won the 1997 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. Since 2013 Vatanen has been the President of the Estonian Autosport Union.

Photo of Henri Toivonen

5. Henri Toivonen (1956 - 1986)

With an HPI of 55.14, Henri Toivonen is the 5th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Henri Pauli Toivonen (25 August 1956 – 2 May 1986) was a Finnish rally driver born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland. His father, Pauli, was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche and his brother, Harri, became a professional circuit racer.Toivonen's first World Rally Championship victory came with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1980 Lombard RAC Rally in Great Britain, just after his 24th birthday. He had the record of being the youngest driver ever to win a world rally until his countryman Jari-Matti Latvala won the 2008 Swedish Rally at the age of 22. After driving for Opel and Porsche, Toivonen was signed by Lancia. Despite nearly ending up paralysed at the Rally Costa Smeralda early in 1985, he returned to rallying later that year. He won the last event of the season, the RAC Rally, as well as the 1986 season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, which his father had won exactly 20 years earlier. Toivonen died in a crash on 2 May 1986 while leading the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. His American co-driver, Sergio Cresto, also died when their Lancia Delta S4 plunged down a ravine and exploded. The crash had no close witnesses and the only remains of the car were the blackened spaceframe, making it impossible to determine the cause. Within hours, Jean-Marie Balestre, then President of the FISA, banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season, ending rallying's supercar era. Toivonen started his career in circuit racing and was also very competitive on tarmac. He raced successfully in a European Endurance Championship event, achieved praise from Eddie Jordan, in whose Formula Three team Toivonen made a few guest appearances, and impressed in his Formula One test for March Grand Prix. The annual Race of Champions, originally organised in Toivonen's memory, awards the winning individual driver the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy.

Photo of Jarno Saarinen

6. Jarno Saarinen (1945 - 1973)

With an HPI of 54.87, Jarno Saarinen is the 6th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Jarno Karl Keimo Saarinen (11 December 1945 – 20 May 1973) was a Finnish professional Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. In the early 1970s, he was considered one of the most promising and talented motorcycle racers of his era until he was killed during the 1973 Nations Grand Prix in Italy. Saarinen's death led to increased demands for better safety conditions for motorcycle racers competing in the world championships. He remains the only Finn to have won a motorcycle road racing world championship. Saarinen was inducted into the F.I.M. MotoGP Hall of Fame in 2009.

Photo of Tommi Mäkinen

7. Tommi Mäkinen (1964 - )

With an HPI of 54.63, Tommi Mäkinen is the 7th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Tommi Antero Mäkinen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈtomːi ˈmækinen]; born 26 June 1964) is a Finnish racing executive and former driver. Mäkinen is one of the most successful WRC drivers of all time, ranking fifth in rally wins (24) and third in championships (4), tied with Juha Kankkunen behind Sébastien Ogier (8) and Sébastien Loeb (9). In 2018, as a head of Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, he became the first person in the history of rally driving to win a Championship both as a driver and as a team principal.He is a four-time World Rally Champion, a series he first won, and then successfully defended, continuously throughout 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999, on all occasions driving the Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. He also aided Mitsubishi to the 1998 world constructors' title as well as winning the 2000 Race of Champions. Mäkinen's navigators include compatriots Seppo Harjanne, Kaj Lindström and Risto Mannisenmäki, the former retiring from alongside Mäkinen having previously served 1985 champion, and fellow "Flying Finn", Peugeot's Timo Salonen.

Photo of Juha Kankkunen

8. Juha Kankkunen (1959 - )

With an HPI of 54.62, Juha Kankkunen is the 8th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Juha Matti Pellervo Kankkunen (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈjuhɑ ˈkɑŋkːunen] (listen); born 2 April 1959) is a Finnish former rally driver. His factory team career in the World Rally Championship lasted from 1983 to 2002. He won 23 world rallies and four drivers' world championship titles, which were both once records in the series. Both Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier have since collected more world titles, but no driver was able to repeat Kankkunen's feat of becoming a world champion with three different manufacturers until Ogier matched this achievement in 2020. Kankkunen was signed by Toyota Team Europe in 1983 and he took his first WRC win in his third year in the team. His performances got him a deal with the defending champions Peugeot for 1986, and Kankkunen was soon crowned the series' then youngest-ever champion. As Peugeot withdrew from the championship following the ban of Group B, Kankkunen moved to Lancia and became the first driver to successfully defend his title. After a two-year stint back at Toyota, he returned to Lancia and won a record third title in 1991. In 1993, Kankkunen re-joined Toyota and won his fourth title. Following Toyota's disqualification and 12-month ban in 1995, Kankkunen did not return to active participation in the series until joining Ford halfway through the 1997 season replacing an underperforming Armin Schwarz. After moving to Subaru for 1999, he took his first win in over five years. Before retiring after the 2002 season, he competed part-time for Hyundai. Kankkunen's achievements outside the WRC include winning the Dakar Rally in 1988 and the Race of Champions in 1988 and 1991. Following his retirement from active rallying, he has worked in the fields of business and politics. In 2007, Kankkunen set the world speed record on ice in a Bentley Continental GT. In 2011, he set a further record of 330.695 km/h in a convertible Bentley Continental Supersports.

Photo of Mika Salo

9. Mika Salo (1966 - )

With an HPI of 54.58, Mika Salo is the 9th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Mika Juhani Salo (born 30 November 1966) is a Finnish former professional racing driver. He competed in Formula One between 1994 and 2002. His best ranking was 10th in the world championship in 1999, when he stood in for the injured Michael Schumacher at Ferrari for six races, scoring two podiums. He also won the GT2 class in the 2008 and 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Photo of Markku Alén

10. Markku Alén (1951 - )

With an HPI of 54.25, Markku Alén is the 10th most famous Finnish Racing Driver.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Markku Allan Alén (born 15 February 1951) is a Finnish former rally and race car driver. He drove for Fiat, Lancia, Subaru and Toyota in the World Rally Championship, and held the record for most stage wins (801) in the series, until Sébastien Loeb overtook it at the 2011 Rally Catalunya. Alén's phrase "now maximum attack" became well-known.Alén never won the world championship itself, despite being for a long time the driver with the most wins to his credit. However, he did win the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1978, the precursor to the World Championship for Drivers established in 1979. In 1986, he was the world champion for eleven days, until Peugeot's appeal went through and the results of Rallye Sanremo, which Alén had won, were annulled.

Pantheon has 26 people classified as racing drivers born between 1938 and 1991. Of these 26, 21 (80.77%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living racing drivers include Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen, and Ari Vatanen. The most famous deceased racing drivers include Hannu Mikkola, Henri Toivonen, and Jarno Saarinen.

Living Racing Drivers

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Deceased Racing Drivers

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Which Racing Drivers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 5 most globally memorable Racing Drivers since 1700.