The Nordic Thunder of Formula One
2014 will mark the first time since 1974 that more than three Nordic drivers will be participating in Formula Ones. Out of the Nordic countries only three have ever had drivers compete in F1: Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Norway and Iceland have never had a driver take part in F1s presumably due to a lack of interest and/or resources (although Norwegians have at least taken part in lower divisions of open-cockpit racing). Here’s a quick look at the Nordic countries’ standings in F1 throughout history.
Unsurprisingly, the first Nordic F1 driver was a Swede. Joakin “Jo” Bonnier competed as early as 1956 and continued to compete all the way to 1971 when he was already facing his much younger countrymen Ronnie Peterson and Reine Wisel. Bonnier achieved a total, one victory during his nearly 15 year career.
Ronnie Peterson (pictured right), the Super Swede, was unquestionably the most succesful Swedish driver in history, achieving 10 victories during his career and would have had a realistic shot at the 1978 championship. Unfortunately, Peterson died from complications in the aftermath of an accident in the Italian Grand Prix. The accident made even more tragic by the fact that three of his fellow competitors threw the race in order to save him from his car’s wreckage. Peterson still managed to posthumously land second in the over-all standings at the end of the season (the season was won by the American Mario Andretti).
The last Swedish driver to compete, before Marcus Ericsson who is now entering the sport, was Stefan Johansson who competed between 1983 and 1991. Johansson’s career was very spotty (he made two unsuccessful bids to enter in 1980) although to his credit he achieved 12 podiums in his day. His best standing was 5th in the championship in 1986, the second and last of his two seasons at Ferrari. Johansson’s last couple of years were ungraceful, driving for the non-competitor teams Onyx, AGS and Footwork. Technically the last race Johansson participated in was in 1989 as the following years his teams were unable to qualify for races.
Denmark’s F1 past is the most spotty of all. With four past drivers, none have ever scored championship points. Kevin Magnussen, who is entering the sport this year at McLaren, will be the fifth Danish driver. Magnussen probably has the best chance of finally giving the Danes their long-awaited championship points, considering he’s driving for one of the best teams (also, the point-scoring system is now a lot more forgiving than in the past). The last Danish driver before him, Nicolas Kiesa, drove 5 races for Minardi in 2003. Other notable aspects about Denmark’s F1 history is that no two Danes have ever raced simultaneously in F1.
Compared to their number of drivers and years, Finns have the best over-all results in the sport out of all the Nordic countries with four championships in all. Albeit, Finland’s track record didn’t start off promisingly. Leo Kinnunen, the first Finnish driver, only ever qualified for one race in 1974, an entry which resulted in a retirement. Similarly Mikko Kozarowitzky tried out for two qualifyings in the 1977 season and failed both times.
Finland’s success in the sport really started with Keke Rosberg (pictured right) who, against all odds, won the 1982 World Championship despite winning only one Grand Prix the whole season. Rosberg never matched the excellence of this season though and Finns had to wait until the 1998 season, when Mika Häkkinen beat Michael Schumacher for the title. Häkkinen stands currently as the only Finnish double champion, having won the 1999 championship as well against Eddie Irvine. The most recent Finnish championship is from Kimi Räikkönen, currently driving for Ferrari, who took his first championship on his seventh season in 2007 (also driving for Ferrari).
So as mentioned before, this will be the first time that four Nordic drivers will be racing together since 1974. That season was also the first and, thus far, only time that participants from all three countries took part in the same Grand Prix. The 1974 Swedish Grand Prix had three Swedes, one Dane and one Finn participate. The Swedes were of course Ronnie Peterson, Bertil Roos and Reine Wisell, all of whom retired from the race. Leo Kinnunen was obviously the one Finn to retire. It was also the one and only race for Danish driver Tom Belsø, who actually finished a respectable 8th (although didn’t score points due to the regulations of the day). The most drivers from Nordic countries seen in consequent seasons have numbered three, last time in 1998 when Mika Häkkinen and Mika Salo from Finland raced alongside the Dane Jan Magnussen (father of Kevin).