Two time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has said that Max Verstappen’s pass to win the Austrian Grand Prix was a perfect example of how to race hard but fair.
Hakkinen, no stranger himself to fighting back to win races during his time in Formula 1, praised Max Verstappen’s performance in Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring. Having dropped to P7 off the starting grid due to anti-stall kicking in, Verstappen fought his way back into the race before catching and passing the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, as well as both Ferraris Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Catching Leclerc with four laps to go, the Ferrari driver resisted the initial attack for Verstappen, but a second attempt at Turn 3 was successful. The move generated some controversy as it was an ‘elbows’ out type of pass, with Leclerc running wide on the corner exit, but Hakkinen says he didn’t see any issue with the manoeuvre:
“It was a clear example of hard but fair overtaking.” Hakkinen told Unibet. When the two cars got to the apex of the corner, Max had made the overtake. I understand why Leclerc trying to stay on the outside but you cannot use the run-off area to overtake. It was good racing, and Max really deserved this victory.”
“Max’s win was enjoyable to watch, especially after the ‘anti-stall’ software caused him to make a bad start and drop to 8th place at the beginning of the race. He said afterwards that he thought it was all over, but began a comeback drive that is one of the very best in recent years. There is nothing like watching a top driver in a competitive car coming through the field like this. No one was going to stop him!”
Hakkinen has been a vocal critic of the conservation style of racing thats witnessed at a lot of F1 races nowadays, and says that the harder tyre options allowed the drivers to push more than usual in this case, resulting in a better race: “I have said before that it is so important for drivers to be able to drive flat-out instead of nursing the car and protecting their tyres, and Max’s choice of medium and then hard tyres worked out perfectly. After making a late pit stop he was able to push really hard in the second part of the race, overtaking car after car, including both Mercedes and finally Charles for the lead – 3 laps from the end of the race.”