Mika Hakkinen has roped in F2 rookie Kush Maini under his guidance in a surprise move with F1 being the prime goal.
Having had a business/mentor relationship with Valtteri Bottas sometime back, two-time champion Hakkinen is back in a similar role this time taking in F2 podium finisher Maini under his guidance with F1 being the prime goal.
The Finn has been observing Maini, who switched to F2 with Campos this year after a season in F3 with MP Motorsport. Hakkinen won’t be like the traditional driver coach but more in the Mark Webber-like territory, who handles Oscar Piastri currently.
“I have a lot of experience from working with Valtteri Bottas seeing him developing and growing as a driver,” said Hakkinen. “More recently I’ve been following Kush, understanding his abilities, his talent for driving. It’s a very interesting journey together to develop, to be an even more of a professional racing driver.
“F1 is our objective, not forgetting the current situation in F2. I don’t think I have to put my nose into that (teaching techniques). My role is about leveraging the tools of communication and the network that I have. These assets are very powerful when looking after a young talented driver.
“I’ve been an ambassador for Formula One and been part of F1 since 1991. It’s an asset and the power that I have to take this young driver into the right places at the right time. Of course, India is an enormous, powerful country. I’m part of bringing a young driver from India to Formula One, bringing these mega companies, learning to understand the opportunities that Formula One can bring them.
“And vice versa, of course, what Formula One can experience and create with India. I can only see beautiful success stories. India is going to be very powerful. And I want all Indians to know Kush Maini, I want everybody in India cheering him. I want them to feel that he’s going to be a winner in Formula One.
“Of course, it requires very hard work and a lot of sacrifices. Because of my experience in this motor racing world, I do understand the importance of timing, being in the right team, having the right partners, working with the right people is crucial,” summed up Hakkinen.
Additionally, Maini – younger brother of Arjun – will be managed by The Grid’s Guillaume le Goff who is looking after the likes of Pierre Gasly, Nyck de Vries, Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, Enzo Deligny and more. He is likely to continue in F2 in 2024 too.
“I’ve watched Mika since I was very young. And I know everything he has achieved in this sport,” said Maini. “So just for him to believe that I could reach Formula One shows that we’ve done something right in these last 15 years. It’s a massive weapon you have in your arsenal when you have Mika Hakkinen standing behind you!
“I think from next year, my approach and that of my team is going to be a lot more structured thanks to Mika. Having a trainer who’s looking after your nutrition at the track and a mind coach looking after anything you’re going through on a race weekend will allow me to Focus on Driving.
“Basically, the way Mika works is you narrow down everything to the point where the driver just has one job. Having Mika behind me, my whole team being created now and not having to stress about racing, I think it’s a very exciting time for myself, and I definitely feel I haven’t showed anywhere near what I am capable of in the car. I’m very excited to hopefully show it next year,” summed up Maini.