Former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has warned Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen that they are both dicing with danger by taking “very heavy risks” on the track. The pair were embroiled in an epic title in 2021, that culminated in the Red Bull man winning the title in controversial fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Their rivalry became tempestuous though, following a series of on-track collisions and disputed overtakes with both drivers punished over the course of the season.
At the British Grand Prix in July, Verstappen was left needing hospital treatment after the pair’s high speed crash, with Hamilton being deemed responsible by stewards. However, unlike the Dutchman, he was able to continue and recovered from a 10-second penalty to win his home race.
At the Italian Grand Prix in September, the two collided again, and this time it was Verstappen who was given a grid penalty for the following race after his vehicle landed on top of Hamilton’s, with the latter’s halo saving him from a potentially fatal head collision.
There were other notable incidents, and even prior to the drama that unfolded in the final race at the Yas Marina, stewards had to rule on whether Hamilton should be punished for cutting a corner as he re-entered the track having been forced wide by the now world champion.
They also ran off the road together at Interlagos, while Hamilton having to take evasive action at the start of the race at Imola.
In Saudi Arabia, there was contact between their two respective vehicles again, with Verstappen slowing down and clipping the mirror of the Mercedes man after being ordered to give up his place by race officials.
Hakkinen, won won F1 titles in 1998 and 1999, knows all about the dangers of the sport, having miraculously survived at Adelaide in 1995 after his car suffered a tyre failure during qualifying.
As a result, he became airborne and crashed sideways into the barrier at an estimated speed of 120 mph, and was left critically injured due to sustaining a skull fracture, internal bleeding and a blockage of his airway.
His life was undoubtedly saved by trackside medical staff, and despite remaining in the hospital for approximately two months, the Finn would mater make a remarkable recovery.
“Is it my style to do things that those two drivers did? Not really, it is not my style and that is because I had a very bad accident,” Hakkinen, 53, told PA News.
“I spent a lot of time in hospital and I know the pain when things go wrong.
“These two drivers, they don’t know that, so they do take risks, very heavy risks, and they rely a lot on the safety of the car and the safety of the track.”
The 2022 campaign will see new technical regulations brought into the sport, with all teams have to adapt their cars to fall into place with the new overhaul.
Red Bull will unveil their car next Wednesday, February 9, while the Silver Arrows will wait until February 18 – five days before pre-season testing gets underway in Barcelona.
Whether the new models result in Hamilton and Verstappen having to taper their styles remains to be seen, although Dutchman will need to exact caution, as he heads into the season with seven penalty points on his FIA licence.