Mika Häkkinen: “Max’s Red Bull is the only competitor Mercedes face”

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Two-time Formula 1 champion Mika Häkkinen talks about Mercedes winning its seventh consecutive constructors’ title and gives a rundown of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Häkkinen, a long-time McLaren Mercedes driver, had strong words of praise for the German team’s success.

“Seven consecutive World Championship titles for the Mercedes Benz Formula 1 team is a truly brilliant achievement,” wrote the Finn in his Unibet column.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas giving them another 1-2 finish on Sunday after race in which luck – both good and bad – played its part in the outcome.

“Lewis’ 93rd race win was also Mercedes’ 100th victory during the hybrid-engine era which started in 2014, and that tells you everything about the level of dominance that the team has achieved under the leadership of Toto Wolff.”

Häkkinen went on to give a rundown of Mercedes’ race at Imola.

“Valtteri had once again produced a strong qualifying, edging out Lewis by one tenth of a second, so another Mercedes victory seemed certain.

“After making a perfect start to lead the race, however, Valtteri’s day was immediately compromised by picking up a large piece of debris on lap two – part of the front wing on Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, damaged following a small collision with Kevin Magnussen.

“The drop in performance caused by having a large piece of debris caught in the left-hand barge board of his car cost Valtteri over 0.5s per lap.

“The aerodynamics of an F1 car are very sensitive to any imbalance, so this was a really major problem and Valtteri did a fantastic job to keep pushing as hard as he did.

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“We saw him lock the front wheels on his car at the downhill Rivazza corner a couple of times, and this is easy to do when you have not enough aerodynamic downforce to ensure you have grip under braking.

“Ultimately this is why Max Verstappen was able to overtake him, but Valtteri did a really good job to keeping pushing hard.

“It’s clear that Valtteri had an opportunity to win this race, but the bad luck in picking up debris was matched by Lewis’ good luck in having a Virtual Safety Car provide him with perfect timing for his pit stop.

“The difference in time between a normal pit stop and a pit stop under safety car conditions was 10 seconds, so this handed Lewis a really huge opportunity – and he took it.

“He had been pushing hard in 3rd place, realising that Valtteri and Max were running at a slower pace, but the VSC gave him a perfect opportunity to take the win.”

In the end the Finn says Max Verstappen is the only person that can challenge Mercedes in 2020.

“As we have seen all year, Max’s Red Bull is the only competitor Mercedes face, and again he did a really good job.

“Max overtook Lewis at the start, put the maximum pressure on Valtteri and eventually overtook him only to have a right rear tyre puncture throw his car off the track and into retirement,” concluded Häkkinen.

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