Mika Hakkinen: Mercedes should be stronger after the summer break but Ferrari will fight to the death


Seeing Valtteri Bottas move over during last Sunday’s race to let Lewis Hamilton take the fight to Kimi Raikkonen is absolutely typical behaviour for him. He is not selfish in relation to the teams he works for. Like any top driver he is selfish enough to want to win, but also intelligent enough to know that working together will bring the results to the team. What he did required discipline and nerves. He easily could have kept Lewis behind, but he knew Lewis was flying and it was the right decision for the team.  

Later, when I saw Lewis allow Valtteri to overtake him and regain position, I thought to myself that this is a great example of a team working together, a real partnership. There were risks involved in that last lap, as Max Verstappen was very quick towards the end of the race so there was always the chance of giving away a position to him, but Valtteri and Lewis managed it perfectly.

Valtteri has enormous discipline; great power to control his emotion and nerves. He can see things long-term, he knows the season has a long way to go with a lot of Grand Prix ahead. A lot can happen in that time.  He is focussed on being a team player as well as wanting to win the World Championship for himself, and he knows that races are never won at the first corner. I think his focussed, long-term approach is correct. Michael Schumacher had a similar long-term focus, and whether it was planning what he had to do over the next five or 10 laps, or during the whole season, he never lost sight of his overall objective.

After the Mercedes domination in Silverstone, Hungary was a very different story.  It was pretty clear that Hungary suited the Ferrari car.  There is no doubt about it that when it comes to high speed corners and fast tracks Mercedes has the edge, whereas at the lower speed circuits they seem to struggle to get the balance right, and this is when Ferrari has an advantage. It is very difficult to change the overall characteristics of a car during the season, so the balance of the remainder of the season will be very interesting. 

At the next races in Spa-Francorchamps and Monza I am very confident Mercedes will be strong, but nevertheless everything will have to work perfectly on the car, and the drivers will need to push hard because Ferrari is not going to give up this fight. Vettel has worked hard to maintain his Championship advantage, and Raikkonen is a strong team-mate.

McLaren-Honda had a great result in Budapest and this will create a lot of positive energy within the team at the start of the summer break. The team understands its strengths and weaknesses, it knows there is no shortcut to winning races, and they will simply have to keep on working.


The drivers have to keep their heads down too; there is no magic solution to the situation, so it’s just a question of working step by step, tenth by tenth, and the results will eventually start coming. McLaren is going to return to a fully competitive position, and Hungary was a good example – they really made the most of it. It was a massive step in the right direction and I am sure that once they start having similar levels of power to the front runners like Mercedes, the results will come.

The race in Hungary was once again between Mercedes and Ferrari after Verstappen ran into Ricciardo at the entry to Turn 2. This is a difficult corner because when you are turning in, and especially trying to overtake, the track falls away and it’s easy to lock a wheel and understeer wide.  This is what happened to Verstappen, and it was a pretty obvious risk, with Ricciardo paying the price.

When team mates collide you can be pretty sure there will be a guaranteed argument afterwards, no ‘good mornings’, some silences when they see each other and maybe not a lot of eye contact! When things like this happened to me and David Coulthard we were both young guys, and desperate to win, but then this is precisely when you make mistakes.  

It’s part of the learning curve, as you develop from being a good driver into a great one, so when it all goes wrong you just have to make sure you learn, develop and become a stronger competitor.