Häkkinens’ verdict on Hamilton, Ferrari & Mercedes

Mika Häkkinen first met Lewis Hamilton in London in 1996, when the Briton was eleven years old, and as he points out in his latest column on Unibet’s blog – it’s a moment he’s not forgotten.

“I remember meeting Lewis Hamilton for the first time in 1996 at the Autosport Awards in London. He was 11-years-old and already a kart champion, and I was asked by the organisers to present him with a trophy and pose for some photographs.” recalls Mika.

Gary Paffett, Tom Sisley, Lewis Hamilton and Mika Häkkinen

Almost 23 years later, 51-year-old Häkkinen is now double Formula 1 World Champion (1998 and 1999, with McLaren-Mercedes), and 34-year-old Hamilton has become six-time champion in Texas (2008 with McLaren, 2014/2015 and 2017-2019 with Mercedes-Benz).

“He was young, ambitious and clearly talented, to the extent that McLaren’s boss, Ron Dennis, later decided to make Lewis part of the team’s driver academy and bring him the whole way to Formula 1.” continues the Finn.

“Twenty three years later it is a huge achievement for him to have won a sixth Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers, and I was happy to be in Austin at the weekend to witness his success.

“I know how hard it was to win two World Championships, but six shows what an incredible talent he has, and also the consistency of Mercedes in providing him with a truly competitive car every season. It is an outstanding combination, and Lewis has made the most of it.

“I have always said that team work is an essential part of Mercedes’ formula for success, and on a weekend when Lewis clinched the World Championship it was great to see such a strong and impressive performance from Valtteri Bottas.

“He really owned this year’s United States Grand Prix, taking a very good pole position on Saturday and driving a perfect race on Sunday to optimise the team’s strategy and secure the victory. Valtteri has now won four Grands Prix in 2019, and taken second place in the World Championship – his strongest season so far, and a great indication of the progress he has continued to make.

“It was also good to see how happy team boss Toto Wolff was to have Valtteri winning the race and Lewis securing the Championship. Toto knows that he has the strongest driver combination in Formula 1 at the moment, and the team can now start to focus on continuing that success in 2020. I am sure Mercedes will again be the team to beat.

“Ferrari had a very strange weekend. Competitive in qualifying but nowhere in the race after both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc appeared to struggle with a lack of grip at the start Sebastian’s suspension failure was a bad outcome for him, but clearly the kerbs at Circuit of the Americas were causing some problems and Ferrari then warned Charles to avoid them at Turn 8.”

With just two races to go for the 2019 F1 season, McLaren are 38 points ahead of Renault – and Renault seems to have understood why it is in danger of losing the duel with McLaren for the 2019 Formula 1 season.

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Honda has also noticed the lower Ferrari speed on the straights compared to his own engine in the USA, but technical director Toyoharu Tanabe does not go as far as his driver Max Verstappen, who accused Ferrari of cheating after the race. He wants to wait for more races to get a clear picture.

Ferrari followed the lead in the Austin race: Charles Leclerc was more than 50 seconds behind at the finish. The Scuderia explains……. READ MORE