Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen says the racing in Saudi Arabia “was not positive” and criticised the “dangerous” clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen attempted to relinquish the lead to Hamilton along the back straight, having been requested to do so following their Turn 1/2 incident, but did so by braking, with Hamilton also slowing, before making contact with his title rival.
Stewards deemed Verstappen’s actions to be worthy of a 10-second time penalty and also issued two penalty points on his licence.
Hakkinen, writing in his Unibet blog, believes the situation was complicated by the manner of communication between various parties, but that the manner in which it unfolded was dangerous.
“With Max being asked to give the lead back to Lewis, the solution was clear,” he said.
“When you have to let a car repass there is only one way to do it safely. That is to make a clear move to one side, come off the throttle slightly and allow the natural speed differential to enable your competitor to repass you.
“What happened in Jeddah was dangerous. Both drivers knew that the DRS activation line lay ahead, so neither wanted to be the first across it since that would enable the other driver to overtake them on the next straight.
“We also now know that while Max had been given the instruction to allow Lewis to pass, Lewis had not yet been informed and was momentarily confused. As a result I think the teams and FIA will need to look at the process, and perhaps the technology, used to send messages to drivers.
“Looking at what happened next, I do not believe that Max was ‘brake testing’ Lewis – that is, trying to force a collision which could easily have put both cars out of the race.
“Instead he was trying to force Lewis to overtake him at the point. However the way he slowed, and the position of his car on the track, was definitely a problem. The FIA has revealed that Max’s car produced 2.4G-force under braking.
“To give you an idea of what that is like, a high-performance road car with ABS would produce about 1.2G under maximum braking. This was almost twice that, and we could see Max slowed from eighth to third gear in the process.
“Whatever the reason, it was not positive racing and the FIA was right to apply a penalty after the race.
“While we can argue about the size of the penalty – considering it did not change the results – the message is clear.
“Dangerous driving will lead to a penalty and if the FIA see a repeat of this kind of driving in Abu Dhabi I believe the penalty will be severe and immediate.”
Hakkinen, who won his two world titles after prevailing in last-race showdowns in 1998 and 1999, is hopeful the 2021 championship can be decided fairly.
“I have always been of the opinion that you have to race positively, not negatively,” he wrote.
“Winning the World Championship should be all about speed, precision, race craft and proving that you can beat the other driver in a straight fight – a sporting fight.
“That’s what I want to see next Sunday, and I know that’s what the FIA, Formula 1 and the fans want too.”