Mika Hakkinen has warned Max Verstappen that trying to “intimidate” Lewis Hamilton will only give the Mercedes driver “increased motivation”.
In a season filled with controversies and clashes, Verstappen and Hamilton had their latest tussle at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix with the reigning World Champion coming out on top.
Starting from 10th place on the grid, Hamilton had to pass Verstappen if he wanted to win and after a contentious off-track moment at Turn 4 where Verstappen ran them both wide, he eventually made the move.
He then showed Verstappen just what he can do in clean air, putting 10 seconds between himself and the Red Bull driver in the space of just 11 laps.
Hakkinen reckons Verstappen’s attempt to “intimidate” Hamilton had backfired.
“Max is at the top of his career, leading the World Championship and determined to keep Lewis behind,” he wrote in his latest Unibet blog.
“What happened at Turn 4 on lap 48 was an example of how hard Max is prepared to push.
“Keeping the steering wheel open is an easy way to intimidate a rival, but it can also lead to a collision. In that case you never know what might happen.
“I am not sure intimidating Lewis will work. He likes a challenge. It gives him extra focus!
“I was team-mate to Ayrton Senna and a rival to Michael Schumacher, two drivers who sometimes used very aggressive tactics.
“There is a famous photograph of me talking to Michael after the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 2000, explaining to him why I was unhappy about some of his tactics.
“I love hard racing, but the racing needs to happen on the track.”
The Finn was happy to see no penalty was dished out on the day to Verstappen, although he may yet be disappointed as Mercedes have requested a right to review which will take place on Thursday at 5pm Qatar time.
If Mercedes' appeal against Max Verstappen is successful, even a five-second time penalty would drop him down to P3 from Brazil, closing the gap at the top by three more points… #F1 pic.twitter.com/Za5GxOCCvy
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) November 17, 2021
“I was personally happy to see Race Control let both Max and Lewis continue,” Hakkinen continued. “Both cars left the track and they rejoined in the same order with no damage done.
“Again, like with the disqualification, I’m sure it gave Lewis increased motivation.
“When Michael tried to put me off the track at Spa, it made me absolutely determined to make the overtake – which is the one everyone remembers.”
The Brazilian result means the two head to Qatar separated by 14 points in Verstappen’s favour.
With 78 still in play, Hakkinen hopes this one will not be decided in the stewards’ office.
“With three races to go I think we will see more excellent racing,” he said.
“The right way to win the championship is to race hard but fair, with brilliant overtaking and the victory being decided by the chequered flag.
“This is such a good World Championship I really don’t want accidents, penalties and stewards’ meetings to determine the final result.”