Two-time Formula 1 champion Mika Hakkinen feels Ferrari failed in their leadership and strategy in the 2018 Italian GP at Monza.
Kimi Raikkonen took a surprise pole on Saturday, much to the disappointment of Sebastian Vettel as the Ferrari duo were able to beat both the Mercedes cars. However, the tables turned in the favour of the German team on Sunday.
While Raikkonen led the way in the front, Vettel’s move on his teammate allowed Lewis Hamilton to pass the German who then had a spin which sealed his fate in the grand prix even though he managed to continue on.
It was clear that Mercedes had two cars to one and they played the game smartly to eventually outclass Raikkonen and with Valtteri Bottas’ help, Hamilton could win the race and extend his advantage to 30 points.
For Hakkinen, it is clear as to why Hamilton is leading the championship even without the advantage of the Mercedes car which he had in the earlier seasons. The Finn believes Ferrari is handing the titles to its rivals despite having the faster car.
“Ferrari has the fastest car in Formula One at the moment, but Lewis Hamilton has a 30-point lead in the World Championship for Drivers,” Hakkinen wrote on his blog. “No one can say that Lewis is there because the Mercedes has a major advantage.
“He is there because he and the Mercedes team are doing a better job. In my opinion, he is leading the World Championship for three reasons. The first has been his natural talent, particularly in the wet, which has meant that he has been able to upset Ferrari’s weekends any time that it has rained.
“The second is that he shows great race craft and does not make mistakes of the kind that Sebastian Vettel has made, especially at race starts. And thirdly he benefits from having a fantastic team partnership with Valtteri Bottas.
“Last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix produced a fantastic race, and again it was Lewis who made all the right moves, brilliantly supported by Valtteri. The two Mercedes drivers were able to defeat Ferrari at home in Italy because, from the moment the lights went out at the start, it was clear that Ferrari had two drivers racing each other whereas at Mercedes they worked together.”
Hakkinen lauded Raikkonen’s Saturday performance but admitted that it was a bad result for Vettel as Ferrari gives preference to whoever is in front which the Finn feels was a bad call from the Italian manufacturer in a crucial race.
“Kimi Raikkonen did a perfect job in qualifying on Saturday, and with Sebastian Vettel a little bit late onto the track it meant that Kimi was able to benefit from towing up behind Sebastian on the long Monza straights in order to get pole position,” he wrote.
“This was a great performance from Kimi, but a bad result for Sebastian because apparently, the Ferrari contracts give preference to whichever driver is on pole. If this is true, it was a mistake of leadership and strategy on Ferrari’s part not to sit down with Kimi and Sebastian on Saturday night and plan how to run the race.
“They really did not need to be fighting each other going into the first corner, and when Kimi naturally defended – which he is entitled to do – it put Sebastian off-line. This meant that Lewis, who was in third, was always going to get a really good run at Sebastian on the drive through the next corner, the Curva Grande, and that’s exactly what happened.
“In simple terms, if the Ferrari drivers had not been fighting each other, they could have defended much better from Lewis on lap 1. Instead, they gave Lewis an open opportunity to move into 2nd position, and Sebastian spun off when they touched.
“From then on it was two against one. Lewis and Valtteri against Kimi and this gives a team like Mercedes such a strategic advantage because they know exactly how to the play the game.
“As soon as Kimi made his pit stop we could see that Lewis was going to stay out for a few more laps. This meant he would have fresher tyres at the end of the race and the Mercedes team also asked Valtteri to keep going on his first set of tyres until lap 36!
“In this way, it meant that Valtteri could lead the race, control the pace, and put Kimi in the middle of a Mercedes sandwich. With Kimi’s tyres destroyed after he pushed very hard to keep his lead, in the end, the victory for Lewis was certain.”
Hakkinen believes it is now or never for Ferrari and Vettel and they can’t afford to have anymore mistakes in the races to come if they want to break Mercedes’ momentum of winning the titles.
“There are seven races remaining in this year’s World Championship and Ferrari cannot afford to have further battles between their drivers, mistakes by Sebastian or errors in race strategy. To beat Lewis, Valtteri and the Mercedes team, Ferrari now needs to do a perfect job every weekend and hope that Mercedes has some problems.”
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