Mikko Kozarowitzky

Research and Biography by Mischa Bijenhof

Super Vee results thanks to Michael Ferner and Milan Fistonic

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Last updated: 31-October-2004


Before Formula One Formula One After Formula One

Before F1

There was a little-known flying Finn between Kinnunen and Rosberg

Finland has been a major force in Formula 1 for the last two decades. But before the likes of Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and most recently Kimi Raikkonen rose through the ranks of motorsport, there was little to suggest that the Scandinavian country would ever produce top-line Grand Prix drivers. In 1974 Leo Kinnunen became Finland's first F1 driver, but his efforts were barely noticed. He was quickly on his way out after only one start and 4 DNQs.

Finland was left waiting until 1978 when his far more successful compatriot, 1982 World champion Keke Rosberg, made his way into the limelight as the second Finn to start a Grand Prix. But in truth, Keke had another predecessor in the form of little-known Mikko Kozarowitzky, who hailed from Helsinki. Virtually unknown to the rest of the world, Keke and Mikko had been keen rivals for several years in Formula Vee. Yet Kozarowitzky's short-lived career as an F1 driver has been barely documented - until now.


Talented tennis player takes to motor racing In Finnish FVee

At an early age, Kozarowitzky caught the racing bug from his father, who had been involved in racing in the 1950s. And so in 1968, at the age of 20, having already represented Finland in their Davis Cup tennis team in 1966, Mikko made his first steps in motor racing, notably in the Finnish Formula Vee championship. Competing initially under a pseudonym, his irregular appearances prevented consistent results, but it was not long before Kozarowitzky became regarded as something of a talent.

In 1970, Mikko took a step up into Formula 3, both in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe. Having acquired a rather unfashionable and rare Titan Mk 3 with a Nova engine, Kozarowitzky recorded some fine results, including 3rd at Brno, 4th at the Österreichring and 2nd at Keimola, but he did not finish at Karlskoga. Among his rivals were names such as Niki Lauda, James Hunt, David Purley, Torsten Palm and Andy Sutcliffe, all of whom eventually made it to F1, but obviously with varying degrees of success.

Mikko in 1972 taking the track in an European Super Vee Gold Cup event.
Mikko in 1972 taking the track in an European Super Vee Gold Cup event. © Vauhdin Maialma.


Returns to Formula Vee, as military service intervenes

But in truth, F3 may have been a little too much, too soon for Kozarowitzky. So in 1971, he reverted to racing in Formula Super Vee again, contesting selected rounds of the European Gold Pokal (Gold Cup), where his opponents included Jochen Mass, Bertil Roos, Helmut Koinigg and even Peter Sauber. Driving a Veemax, a vehicle of choice especially for Finnish drivers, he was classified 16th in the non-championship race at Hockenheim, before coming 7th at Gurnigel and 8th at Zandvoort.

Throughout 1971 and 1972, military service in Finland limited Mikko's racing activities, but 1972 again saw him taking part in a few European Super Vee Gold Cup events. Having scored points only once in the seventh round on home soil at Keimola, where he finished a fine 5th, Mikko was 14th overall in the championship, which was eventually won by Manfred Schurti. At this stage, though, his single-seater career was still merely an on-again, off-again occupation.


Mikko makes his mark, taking podiums and a win in Salzburg

Mikko was away from the tracks in 1973, but in 1974 he was back, entering a Lola T320, once again at the Super Vee Gold Cup event in Keimola. In a race that was won by Freddy Kottulinsky, followed by Rosberg, Kozarowitzsky didn't see the chequered flag. But time had come to consider his prospects. In 1975 he decided to the make the step towards a more serious racing career. A full year in the Formula Super Vee was on the agenda, this time driving a Lola T324 entered by ATS and Günther Schmidt.

With a much more serious approach and comfortable financial backing, Mikko proved to be no slouch behind the wheel right from the first race. At the Nürburgring Betonschleife, he finished a great 2nd behind his compatriot Rosberg, recording a lap record in the process. This was followed by more 2nds in Aspern and in the non-championship race at Sembach, before he recorded his first win in the highly competitive series at the Salzburgring. He then set another lap record in coming 2nd again at the Nurburgring.

Kozarowitzky was still racing in Super Vee in 1975, and it proved to be a barnstorming year for the Finn.
Kozarowitzky was still racing in Super Vee in 1975, and it proved to be a barnstorming year for the Finn.


Wins the Gold Cup, second to Rosberg in German title

At Anderstorp Kozarowitzky inherited victory after Rosberg was disqualified. After a 3rd at the Norisring and another two fine wins at the Nurburgring and Diepholz, a pair of second places followed at the Nurburgring and Osterreichring. At Silverstone, Mikko ended up 3rd, just behind Rosberg and Eje Elgh. The race at Zolder was another win, while the final race, at Hockenheim, saw him finish 2nd again, this behind winner Manfred Trint in a similar car.

With the races counting for various championships, Kozarowitzky's professional approach certainly proved to be fruitful. He grabbed the Gold Cup title with 112 points, ahead of runner-up Kennerth Persson, Elgh and Rosberg. In the Castrol GTX championship, he was 2nd behind Rosberg, 102 points to 127, and in the German championship Rosberg pipped him to the post, 121 points to 112. In Formula Super Vee at least, Mikko had proven to be one of the best up-and-coming drivers in Europe.


Schmidt gives Mikko a boost into Formula 2 in a Lola

Extending his career abroad, he also ventured outside of Europe for the first time in 1975, competing in the US Formula Super Vee championship round at Daytona, round 11 of that championship. His Lola T324 entered by Fred Opert, against the likes of future US racing stars Howdy Holmes and Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Kozarowitzky came home a fabulous 4th, earning 10 points that placed him an eventual 32nd overall in the American title.

Having impressed his boss Schmidt, Mikko was promoted to European Formula 2 with ATS. The team entered a Lola T450, powered by a BMW engine. It turned out to be a fruitless time in terms of results, the Lola being uncompetitive from the start. During the first round, the Jim Clark Gedächtnisrennen at Hockenheim, Mikko only recorded an uninspiring 14th place in the second heat. It was a similar story at the second round at Thruxton, the Finn retiring his troublesome car with an overheating engine.

Mikko's Formula 2 Lola T450 ready for action with the ATS team in 1976. The year would prove a relative disaster for Kozarowitzky.
Mikko's Formula 2 Lola T450 ready for action with the ATS team in 1976. The year would prove a relative disaster for Kozarowitzky. Picture thanks to Paul Taylor.


Switch from ATS to Ron Dennis: from the frying pan to the fire

The situation deteriorated further at Vallelunga where Mikko recorded his first DNQ. After this disappointing start of the season, Mikko wisely decided to leave Schmidt and his Lola and set off to greener pastures. These he hoped to find at Project Four Racing, the team run by Ron Dennis who was making his first tentative steps as a team owner. The now-famous Brit entered Kozarowitzky in a March 752, combined with a Hart powerplant. But in reality, for Mikko it turned out to be more of the same.

Another disheartening DNQ by over 3 seconds was the meagre result of his first foray with the team at Rouen. At Mugello, he managed to qualify the car, only to finish a lowly 17th. The next round was at Enna, where Mikko came 11th in the first heat, but recorded another DNF in the second when his fuel pump belt broke. This effectively killed any hopes of ending the year on a positive note, and Kozarowitzky wisely skipped the last three rounds. After his successful 1975, F2 had proven to be a disastrous experiment.


Heads to New Zealand, driving for Opert with Rosberg as teammate

Not easily discouraged though, at the start of 1977 Mikko took off to New Zealand to compete in the Peter Stuyvesant Formula Pacific Series, in effect a Formula Atlantic series during the European off-season, driving for Opert once again. In this five-race championship, where he was reunited with Rosberg as his team-mate, Mikko made something of return to form, although once again he wasn't spared of technical mishaps on his Chevron B34 Ford.

A particularly painful retirement was in round 2 at the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, where Mikko comfortably qualified on pole, only to see it all come to nothing when he had to park the car with a misfiring engine, a problem that had also prevented him from finishing the first race at Bay Park. Round 3 in Manfeild brought little comfort, as he lost valuable time repairing a wheel after hitting a kerb, eventually finishing an unsatisfactory 8th, one lap down on Rosberg, who had won there and at Pukekohe.

In the pits during his FPacific stint with Fred Opert in New Zealand. Mikko had a strong finish to the championship.
In the pits during his FPacific stint with Fred Opert in New Zealand. Mikko had a strong finish to the 1977 championship. © Terry Marshall.


A couple of podiums leaves Mikko fourth in the title, looking to F1

Finally, Mikko scored a good result at Teretonga, where he finished 2nd behind Rosberg, the two Finns having qualified 1st and 4th. But unfortunately this was not enough to save Kozarowitzky's bid at the championship. In the last race, the Lady Wigram Trophy, Mikko finished 3rd behind winner Tom Gloy, but at the end of the series, it only brought him equal 4th place in the final standings with John Nicholson on 10 points, behind champion Rosberg (33), Gloy (25) and Bruce Allison (14).

All in all, it had been a moderately busy, but not very successful 1976 and start of 1977 for Mikko in terms of results. His disastrous season in Formula 2 had made him anything but hot property for F1 team bosses. But there was a silver lining; long-time financial backer Marlboro wanted a Finn in Formula 1 in 1977, and with Rosberg committed to F2 duties it was decided that Kozarowitzky would be launched right into the Grand Prix arena sometime during the season. The question was, with which team?

Formula One

Marlboro and Mikko eye several F1 chances

There looked to be several possible outfits with Mo Nunn's Ensign squad on top of Marlboro's and Mikko's list. While not a top-line drive, Ensign was still a very respectable team in 1977, having employed none other than Chris Amon in 1976 before the Kiwi called it quits after seeing Niki Lauda crash at the Nurburgring. In 1977, Ensign entered another Ferrari refugee, in the form of Clay Regazzoni. But there were talks of a second car halfway the season and it was this car that Kozarowitzky had his eyes on.

In the end, the French branch of Marlboro had the upper hand over the Finnish side, and so it was Patrick Tambay who ended up picking up the second Ensign drive. The other team that Kozarowitzky wanted to buy himself into was Williams, after Frank Williams had split up with Walter Wolf. But Williams decided to run with Belgian Patrick Neve, who had some backing from beer company Bellevue to drive Williams' March 761. But in the end it was another March 761 that Mikko would be driving, just not for Williams.


Old Macdonald had some chassis, with a crash here and a crash there

In fact, there was another team that ran the year-old Marches that year. John Macdonald, team boss of the RAM racing outfit, claimed that his team would be running some brand new Marches in 1977. But in truth, he had two leftovers. One was March 761 chassis 3, which had already been given a good bashing by Ronnie Peterson during 1976 (the Swede had crashed it four times), and the other was chassis 8, which had been a T-car the previous year for the equally notorious Vittorio Brambilla.

Originally, Kozarowitzky was scheduled to drive all the European races that year, but as the team was willing to run whoever paid the most, it was Dutchman Boy Hayje who began racing RAM's single entry, in chassis 3. The writing was on the wall when the team appeared to be a shambles, with Hayje unable to get the car through qualifying several times. In the end, under pressure by Hayje's backers F & S Properties, RAM skipped several races to give the chassis an overhaul.


No hope of qualifying at Anderstorp in foreign car

Meanwhile, Macdonald was in desperate need of additional funding and so he took the Marlboro money from Finland to enter a second car, chassis 8, for Kozarowitzky, when the team returned to action in Sweden. Given the fact that Macdonald refused to give the Finn any test mileage before everyone gathered at Anderstorp meant that Mikko saw the car for the first time when it was unloaded before Friday's first practice. It was no surprise then that Kozarowitzky came nowhere near qualifying the car in his first outing.

As one could have expected, Mikko was dead last in the first session, having set a time of 1:32.177. Although he managed to scrape down his time, his eventual best of 1:31.079 was nowhere near fast enough to qualify, 5.675 seconds behind pole-sitter Mario Andretti and 2.675 seconds behind the last qualifier, Rupert Keegan in the Hesketh. Considering his lack of experience, it was a respectable if hopeless effort. In the end, Hayje remained stuck in 28th position and so neither of the RAM drivers had qualified.

Kozarowitzky attempting to qualify his RAM at Anderstorp in 1977. His DNQ would be his best result in F1.
Kozarowitzky attempting to qualify his RAM at Anderstorp in 1977. His DNQ would be his best result in F1.


A test session under his belt, Mikko goes for broke before the rainfall

All Kozarowitzky felt he wanted was some track time. Macdonald apparently saw the pointlessness of the current state of affairs, and arranged a test session at Silverstone. Ex-F1 driver Howden Ganley, who had worked on the RAM Marches previously by widening their track and giving them a longer wheelbase, was drafted in for engineering duties. He claimed that he could make the cars two seconds a lap quicker. Hopes were high for the upcoming British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Kozarowitzky was sure he could drag his car through qualifying this time, but in the first session clouds hung over the former airfield. Fearing that they would get caught out by the rain, Macdonald ordered his driver to push hard right away on his first flying lap. Perhaps Mikko should have reconsidered this order, but after the successful test in the week prior to the race, he was hungry for success and confident of his chances. A bit too hungry, as it appeared.


Keegan a party to the Finn's spin, which ended Mikko's F1 career

As the Finn approached the then-very-fast Woodcote chicane on his second lap, a dawdling Keegan appeared in front of him. The Brit never saw the fast-approaching March coming up behind him and stayed on his racing line. And so Kozarowitzky lost it, crashing his car heavily into the barriers, which ended his chances of qualifying for the race and broke his hand in the process. Even then, Macdonald wanted his driver to take the spare car!

With his set time of 1:25.16, Kozarowitzky ended up failing to pre-qualify, as did his one-off team-mate, Sutcliffe. Although Mikko's accident was dwarfed by the horror shunt that later befell David Purley and almost cost the courageous Englishman his life, his own crash marked the end of his F1 career. Even if he had further opportunities to compete in the other European races that season, by this stage Kozarowitzky was himself fed up with the team and in particular with Macdonald.

After F1

Plans made for Tiga F1 with MK behind the wheel

So, was this where Mikko's story ends? Well, almost. Having enjoyed working together with Ganley, Mikko contacted the New Zealander about the possibility of teaming up in 1978. Ganley, of course, had just joined forces with Tim Schenken, the two former drivers having founded Tiga cars. Plans were in place to enter the 1978 Formula 1 championship, with Kozarowitzky behind the wheel. In the end, though, the usual suspect of lack of funding killed off Tiga's aspirations to enter Formula 1.

At the same time, it curtailed Mikko's ambitions to give F1 a proper shake. Ganley still possesses the stillborn car, and wants to finish it one day. But after that dashed dream, Kozarowitzky never drove a racing car again. Feeling that he had enough of racing, he concentrated on setting up his own business. Today, Mikko lives in Sittard in The Netherlands, and besides running his business, he enjoys playing golf and visiting the occasional Grand Prix.


Son Nikolai takes to the track, with Matson Motorsport

In addition, he has helped his son Nikolai forge a career as a racing driver for himself. Nikolai began karting in the mid-1990s, and in 1996 became European champion in the Intercontinental A class. He then raced Formula Ford 2000 in 1997, and by 1999 and 2000 he was competing in Formula Renault throughout Europe. From 2001 onwards he raced in German Formula Volkswagen, in the Matson Motorsport team established and run by his father.

Sadly, it seems as though Nikolai will not be emulating his father as an entrant in a Grand Prix. However, the Kozarowitzkys maintain some contact with the Rosbergs, and following in Keke's footsteps, Nico Rosberg is knocking on the door of Formula 1, having already tested for Williams. It looks likely that one day the second-generation Rosberg will be on the Grand Prix grid, alongside the likes of Raikkonen to ensure a continued Finnish presence in F1.

Click here to read our exclusive
Interview with Mikko!

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