Mika Hakkinen has admitted he was wrong to judge Max Verstappen before the 17-year-old had been given a chance to prove his talent.
Back in August of last year, the two-time world champion claimed that “in no case is a driver ready for F1” at the age of just 17, adding: “As a manager or a father, I would never let a driver as young as that race in this sport.”
However since witnessing the Dutch driver score six points behind the wheel of his Toro Rosso in the opening four races of the season – only one of which he’s been able to finish due to reliability – Hakkinen has changed his view.
“I was against someone coming into F1 at the age of 17,” he told Spain’s Marca. “But I am happy to admit that I was wrong.”
The 46-year-old however suggested that such a young driver wouldn’t have been able to cut it back in his day, such is the way the sport has evolved in recent years.
“It is an example that times have changed,” he added. “F1 technology is now very powerful and the information the drivers get is much higher, which you can study to become a better driver.
“Everything is better organised, you can test in the simulator all day and in any conditions… I’m not saying it is easier now, but it is more possible to come in and reach a high level.”