Hakkinen: It was a reminder of Senna v Prost

Date published: March 31 2021 - Michelle Foster

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas

Mika Hakkinen says the Bahrain GP battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen reminded him of the rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Verstappen took on Hamilton for the Bahrain Grand Prix win, the Red Bull driver starting from pole position and holding the early advantage.

Hamilton and Mercedes fought back in the strategy game and held track position going into the final 10 laps.

Verstappen, who was on fresher tyres, chased down the seven-time World Champion and tried to make a pass only to do so off the track.

He had to give back the position with Hamilton taking the chequered flag 0.7s ahead of the Dutchman.

Double World Champion says the duel reminded him of rivalries from yesteryear.

“Seeing Lewis and Max battling for victory reminded me of my fights with Michael Schumacher,” he wrote in his Unibet column, “and everyone in F1 remembers the great battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

“When you get drivers and teams so closely matched, the racing is really exciting and memorable.”

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The former McLaren driver says if Sunday night is any indication of what is to come, Formula 1 is in for a thriller this season.

“Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix showed us just how massively competitive this season is going to be,” he said.

“It’s what F1 fans have been dreaming about for years.

“The World Champion didn’t have the quickest car, and the race looked like it was going to Max Verstappen’s Red Bull until the very end, but Lewis and his team at Mercedes-Benz fought back brilliantly.

“This sets Formula 1 up for a duel between Mercedes and Red Bull in 2021. Mercedes now knows that it is going to have to fight very hard to defend its titles.”

He added: “The battle between Lewis and Valtteri at Mercedes, and Max and Sergio at Red Bull, is going to be really fascinating.

“Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is a very determined guy, and you could see how happy he was with the win in Bahrain – it looked like he had just won his first race!

“He knows that Red Bull boss Christian Horner and the men and women have created a major threat to Mercedes’ domination.

“At every level, from a technical and human perspective, we are going to see a sporting war between these teams in 2021.”

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