An F1 pundit has attempted the impossible by trying to figure out who would beat whom amongst some of the sport’s recent World Champions.
The eternal question of who the sport’s best drivers are is one that can never be properly answered – due to differences between generations, the machinery they use, as well as the different approaches to racing under different rulesets.
But that doesn’t stop pundits and fans from trying to hazard a guess at who might be able to beat whom, and one long-standing F1 journalist and pundit has had an attempt at figuring out who he reckons might be the quickest amongst several recent World Champions.
Peter Windsor: Mika Hakkinen or Kimi Raikkonen?
Looking back to 20 years ago, when little-known Finn Kimi Raikkonen shot up the ranks to replace double World Champion and compatriot Mika Hakkinen at McLaren, the younger Finn quickly established a name for himself at being lightning-quick in an era when outright speed over a single lap perhaps mattered more than nowadays.
With Hakkinen’s former teammate David Coulthard suggesting that Mika Hakkinen could be just as quick as contemporary drivers like Lewis Hamilton, F1 journalist Peter Windsor was asked about the topic, which he addressed on his own YouTube channel after the Italian Grand Prix.
“I think David had enormous respect for Mika, and I think that was one of the great things about that era 1998 through to 2001,” Windsor said.
“Perhaps too much respect, you could say because David was very quick. If you think about that race he did, at the 2000 French Grand Prix when he beat Michael [Schumacher], in the spare car as well from memory. Unbelievable drive, David was really good. But he still had enormous respect for Mika.
“Mika was super quick. Between Mika and Kimi, I thought over one lap maybe Kimi, at his peak, was probably just quicker than Mika but, as a racing driver overall, I’d always say Mika.
“That’s only because Kimi was so quick at his peak. His peak was only two years anyway, but Mika was just that good. He was at least as quick as Lewis.”
Mika Hakkinen or Lewis Hamilton ‘both quicker’ than Fernando Alonso
Warming up to his comparisons, Windsor then went on to explore the idea of Hakkinen taking on Lewis Hamilton in equal machinery, and postulated that both would be able to beat two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso – particularly over a single lap.
“Mika and Lewis at their peak, both in race-winning cars?” he said.
“Maybe I need to revise that and say I think they’re pretty dead even. I would say Lewis would have just had the edge over Mika in equal cars, just – very close though. Both quicker than Alonso, I would say, and that’s only because I didn’t think Alonso’s ever really worked on his technique enough to be super quick over one lap.
“He’s very, very good over the race distance and, so long as he’s always got that, he’s never really bothered with anything else. For him, the weekend begins on race day and that’s it. He never worked out why Lewis was slightly better on high-speed braking in the McLaren in ’07. He never bothered with that. He just assumed ‘Well, it must be something weird going on with the car and I’m Fernando Alonso and a better racing driver’ – it can’t be anything to do with Lewis being better.
“So Fernando has never worked on that. Therefore, I don’t think he is as quick. But Lewis vs. Mika? Lewis, for one lap, quicker.”
Attempting to offer logic behind the Hakkinen vs. Hamilton fight over a race distance, Windsor just gave the nod to the British driver – pointing out that Hakkinen’s weaknesses could be more evident with a car he didn’t enjoy the handling of.
“If Mika had a bit of understeer, I think Lewis could have done a better job with it than Mika,” he said.
“I think that was possibly Mika’s weak point, he wasn’t absolutely as good as he was in a neutral car or an oversteering car if he didn’t have a front end.
“I think he would have struggled against a driver like Lewis, he would have struggled. That was Mika’s soft underbelly, if you like!”