The 2021 Formula One world championship battle is rapidly heating up. So far, the pendulum has constantly swung between Red Bull and Mercedes. Following the Mexican GP, many believed that the Bulls had the advantage. However, Valtteri Bottas’s Brazil sprint race win and Lewis Hamilton pulling off a mega comeback, the shifted the momentum. Owing to this, former McLaren champion Mika Hakkinen has a warning for Verstappen.
According to him, it is exciting to see how the battle shifts between the two teams after each weekend. Obviously, the W12 and RB16B have their strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes the circuit characteristics can make a difference. This was evident in Brazil, as Verstappen’s Red Bull was quick in the middle sector. Meanwhile, the Mercedes had the advantage in the faster sections of the track, and Hamilton’s ICE change would have helped.
Unfortunately for Red Bull, when Hamilton dropped to the back of the grid, it only fired him up. To be precise, it motivated him even more to rocket up the order to 5th place. Starting the race from 10th place also meant that there was no stopping him.
Hakkinen said, “As a driver you know the best way to achieve success is to channel your energy into speed. There is no point in getting emotional and over-driving. It is so much better to say ‘right, I am going to dig even deeper’… I’m not sure that intimidating Lewis will work. He likes a challenge. It gives him extra focus!”
On the other side of the garage, Bottas did his job in the Sprint race by acting as an obstacle for Verstappen. However, Hamilton was simply sublime to watch. In that sprint race, he showed just how fast he was and what was coming on Sunday. Although Max Verstappen snatched the lead, the Red Bull was no match for Mercedes’ raw speed.
Sergio Perez did his part to make himself a nuisance for Hamilton. However, the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle was always going to be fierce. The Dutchman’s questionable tactics were just proof of the lengths that he was willing to go to push the limits. According to Hakkinen, opening the steering wheel is a way of intimidating a rival, even though the risk of a collision is high.