Hakkinen: If it was tennis, I’d say it’s advantage Hamilton

Date published: November 23 2021 - Finley Crebolder

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on the podium at Sochi. Russia September 2021

Mika Hakkinen feels it’s now “advantage Hamilton” as this season’s title fight between the Brit and Max Verstappen nears its end.

Just a couple of rounds ago it looked like the Mercedes man would have to wait a year longer at least to become an eight-time World Champion, with Verstappen leading by 19 points heading into the final four race weekends.

However, that gap is now back down to eight following two wins in a row for Hamilton, and he seems set to have a stronger car than his title rival in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Hakkinen feels that he’s now the favourite to prevail.

“If Formula 1 was a tennis match I would say that it was ‘advantage Hamilton’ following his dominant wins in Brazil and Qatar,” the Finn said in his Unibet column.

“Although Max Verstappen leads the World Championship by 8 points, Mercedes has responded by giving Lewis Hamilton a car with which he can really fight to defend his title.”

Verstappen hasn’t driven badly by any means though, limiting the damage as much as possible by finishing in P2 in both Brazil and Qatar, comfortably clear of the rest of the field at the latter race.

The two-time World Champion says both drivers are in a league of their own at the moment.

“Just like Lewis did in Brazil, Max recovered quickly in the race, moving into 4th place on the first lap. The World Championship rivals were on another level, the competition far behind,” he added.

While the two have been making headlines on track, their team bosses have been doing so off it,

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have clashed over the Mercedes rear wing and the latter received a dressing down from the FIA after blaming a “rogue marshal” following Max Verstappen’s penalty for not slowing under yellow flags in Qatar.

Hakkinen feels the governing body is in a difficult position and is doing a good job on the whole, and has stated the importance of their rules being followed by teams and drivers.

 

“In my opinion, we are seeing a sporting war between Mercedes and Red Bull,” he said.

“It’s a battle between Lewis and Max, team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, and the 2000 people who work for them. We have already seen some tense moments and I know we will see some more.

“In the middle comes the FIA with an incredibly tough job to do. They made some difficult decisions in Brazil and they had to do the same in Qatar.

“What it shows is that the officials are trying hard to take a balanced approach, to let the drivers race but also to make everyone remember that the rules have to be followed. Otherwise, we have chaos.”