Häkkinen: “It was critical that Valtteri prevented Max from scoring the win”

© LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd

Two-time Formula 1 champion Mika Häkkinen says Valtteri Bottas’ “brilliant performance” at the Turkish Grand Prix helped Lewis Hamilton’s title fight.

In his Unibet column Mika Häkkinen gave his thoughts on Valtteri Bottas’ amazing win at the Turkish Grand Prix.

“That was a really brilliant performance from Valtteri Bottas on Sunday in Turkey,” the Finn said.

“A very strong victory, his 10th in Formula One, and an important result because he scored the maximum possible points for Mercedes and kept Max Verstappen’s Red Bull behind.

“With team mate Lewis Hamilton finishing 5th, it was critical that Valtteri prevented Max from scoring the win, so his domination of the race was great to see.

“Valtteri showed great skill in managing the intermediate tyres which were used throughout the race due to the damp conditions. Particularly at the start of the race and then again after his pit stop.

“It is so easy to destroy the grip levels on a set of intermediates by pushing too hard straight from the pits, which is what happened to both Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc later in the race.

“Valtteri just focused on beating Max off the start-line, protecting his tyres until they were ready to be pushed, and drove a perfect race.

“There is no doubt that this was one of his best victories in Formula One, so I am not surprised at how happy he and Mercedes were after the race.

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“On a day when Lewis Hamilton had to take a 10 place grid penalty as the result of an engine change, Valtteri did everything that his team could hope for.

Häkkinen also talked about Mercedes’ decision to pit Lewis Hamilton eight laps before the end of the race.

“Lewis had a much more difficult race because of the critical timing of pit stops. The best moment to stop was around the time when Max pitted, and that’s precisely when Valtteri came in for a new set of intermediates too.

“Any other strategy felt like a risk, even if the car felt ok at that moment. While I can understand why Lewis decided to stay out and try to keep going until the end of the race, for sure the tyre performance would have dropped away.

“We saw that with Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, which never made a pit stop, and also with Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari which stayed out and led the race for nine laps. Ultimately Charles’ tyres were providing no grip, and that’s what would have happened to Lewis.

“He could also have suffered a tyre failure, and failing to finish is really not something that he can risk in his battle with Max for the World Championship.

“In my opinion finishing 5th, on a day when Valtteri won and Max had to settle for 2nd, was a good result for Lewis.

“What is also clear from the weekend is that the Mercedes car has moved ahead of the Red Bull in terms of performance.

“Lewis and Valtteri were quickest in qualifying, and Max is admitting that Red Bull have some work to do if they are to win this World Championship.”

The Finn ultimately said that Hamilton and Verstappen’s team-mates will play an “increasingly important role” in the final few races of the 2021 championship.

“As we move into the final six races in the World Championship I think that Valtteri and Sergio will come to play an increasingly important role in providing Lewis and Max with the right level of support and strategy options.

“Max only leads the World Championship by six points, so with 156 points available during these final races the title could swing one way or the other very quickly,” concluded Häkkinen.

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