Hakkinen: Verstappen has key title-winning skills

Finley Crebolder
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, French Grand Prix

Mika Hakkinen feels that, with his maturity and consistency, Max Verstappen has the key attributes required to win an F1 title.

Verstappen took the lead of a championship for the first time in his career by winning in Monaco and expanded that lead over Lewis Hamilton with another victory last time out at the French Grand Prix.

Given the fact that he has never been involved in a title fight while Hamilton has won seven championships though, many still consider the Brit the favourite.

However, Hakkinen says the Dutchman has what it takes to triumph.

“Max was annoyed to lose the lead at the start of the race, but I think the way he calmed down and focused on delivering the strong two-stop strategy was really impressive,” the Finn said in his Unibet column.

“He has matured as a driver, and he now knows what it takes to win consistently. This is the key to winning a World Championship.

“Red Bull have won four Grands Prix this year, while Mercedes have taken three. In reality, Max should have won at least one more, so while we can say that the Mercedes remains a very competitive race car, Red Bull is really delivering strong, consistent performances across different types of track.”

Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Red Bull driver ratings
Max Verstappen Sergio Perez Red Bull

What’s more, Verstappen’s team are 37 points clear of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship, and that’s in large part due to the performances of Sergio Perez.

After winning in Baku, the Mexican took another podium at Paul Ricard, and Hakkinen believes that his tyre management skills were are a large reason why his team-mate was able to win.

“For a long time it seemed that Max was stuck in second place, Lewis was in control and Valtteri [Bottas] was pushing hard in 3rd. Meanwhile Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull started to fade – or at least that’s how it looked,” he added.

“In fact Sergio was playing a typically clever race. In looking after his tyres he was able to make his pit stop seven or eight laps after Valtteri and Max.

“This put pressure on Mercedes, because when Max overtook Lewis by using the ‘undercut’ – pit stopping before Lewis and using a really quick out lap to retake the lead – the World Champions were afraid of switching to a two-stop strategy because this might enable Sergio to gain better track position.

Follow us on Twitter @Planet_F1, like our Facebook page and join us on Instagram!