Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen says Red Bull driver Max Verstappen deservedly won the title in the 2021 season. From the first race of the final season, it was clear that Verstappen and Hamilton would have the main word in the title as these two drivers had a wheel-to-wheel fight at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Such duels were seen in almost every race, but there was no lack of serious incidents between them. The first serious collision took place in Silverstone, and a little later at the Italian Grand Prix. Verstappen was the leader in the championship for the most part during the season, and in the last race they were tied in points - with the Dutchman having one victory more, which gave him a slight advantage.
Former Formula 1 driver Mika Hakkinen assures that the Red Bull driver deservedly won the title this season because the Austrian team did a great job in the fight with Mercedes. "I think Red Bull Honda has done a really fantastic job of fighting Mercedes this year and Max's title is well deserved," the former two-time champion wrote in his column.
“Lewis (Hamilton) missed an outstanding eighth title with the smallest margin. I think the fact that he and Valtteri Bottas won the construction championship gives balance. Most of the cash prize will also help, " the seven-time world champion added.
The ‘flying’ Finn also touched on what was the subject of controversy in the last race in Abu Dhabi. The safety car, caused by Nicholas Latifi, caused many reactions. At that moment, Verstappen went to the pits for a new set of soft tires in order to be in a better position at the restart than Hamilton, who was already worn out - over 40 laps.
But by returning to the track, Verstappen could not immediately return to his position because the race management did not allow it. Soon the decision was implemented and 5 drivers came to their seats. Verstappen uses this and comes to victory, which also means winning the title.
However, Mercedes filed two complaints after the race, which were soon rejected by the FIA. Hakkinen believes it would have been much worse if the race had ended under a safety car. "Was race director Michael Masi right to speed up the end of the SC period, letting the cars between Max and Lewis schedule themselves and organizing the race in one lap?" "I think it would be much worse if this championship ended behind a safety car.
That would really be such an anti-climax, "explains Mika. "The decision of the race director, later supported by four referees, is based on his understanding of the rules, including his responsibility for deciding when the SC returns to boxing."
“Balancing decisions between ensuring safety and promoting racing is the hardest job a race director faces. Looking at the result, in terms of safety and promotion of races, Michael did his job, "concluded Hakkinen.