Mika Häkkinen, former F1 champion, expresses caution about Max Verstappen‘s likelihood of winning the F1 world championship, highlighting various factors beyond Verstappen’s control that could impact the outcome.
Häkkinen is hesitant to quickly label Max Verstappen as the favorite for the world championship. According to the Finn, several factors will influence whether the Dutchman can claim his fourth world title this year, beyond Verstappen’s talent.
As the start of the 2024 season approaches, early speculations about this year’s world champion are emerging. Verstappen is favored to become the Formula 1 champion for the fourth time in his career, but Häkkinen wants to first see the RB20 in action.
“Don’t get me wrong: I agree that Red Bull, and especially Max Verstappen, will set the standard, but they shouldn’t be handed the trophies before even a meter is driven,” Häkkinen told BILD.
A fourth title for Verstappen in 2024 would mean that the Dutchman is only three titles away from matching the current record of seven world championships held by Hamilton and Schumacher. According to Häkkinen, Verstappen has the potential to aim for the record, but he also needs luck on his side.
“What Max has achieved in the past few years is incredible,” says the former world champion.
“But he needs four more world titles to match them. Max has the talent to become the greatest of all time, but it’s not just up to him. Team boss, car, pit crew, management, everything has to be perfect. That was the case with Lewis and Michael (Schumacher). That’s why they were able to shape an era.”
Häkkinen has high expectations for McLaren.
The Finnish driver not only comments on Verstappen’s title chances in 2024 but also ventures to predict who the biggest competitor for the Dutchman will be: McLaren. “After a disastrous start to last season, they have developed very well and, above all, consistently. With Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, they probably have the strongest driver pair next to Ferrari.”
In doing so, Häkkinen places the McLaren duo above the pair at Mercedes. He also provides the reason why he thinks Mercedes has a lesser team duo. “Mercedes is at a crossroads. After a decade of success, the past two seasons have left their mark on the management and employees. And that’s a good thing! You have to be angry now. You need to rediscover that unconditional will to win again. The team must become a team again, able to trust each other blindly. That’s what’s lacking now.”
“Mercedes is clearly Lewis’s team.”
According to the former F1 driver, this is especially because the team seems to favor one driver more than the other. “Even though George (Russell) is entering his third season as a Mercedes driver, it’s clear that it’s Lewis’s team. He has been driving there since 2013 and has worked for many years with many of the engineers and mechanics. It doesn’t take him a ten-minute analysis to explain the problem. In Formula 1, these kinds of small things ultimately determine whether you’re in pole position or not.”
While Russell managed to secure a victory in his debut season for Mercedes at the São Paulo Grand Prix in 2022, Häkkinen observes that Hamilton was the better driver of the two in 2023, and the pressure on Russell is increasing. “When you’re the teammate of a seven-time world champion, all eyes are automatically on you. It doesn’t matter if you finish on the podium if your teammate has won. This applies to all teams, but George is racing against a record champion.”
Will Max Verstappen Clinch F1 Title in 2024 ?. Will Max Verstappen Clinch F1 Title in 2024 ?
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