Verstappen comeback 'one of the best', says former world champion
Mika Hakkinen has praised the efforts of Max Verstappen following the Dutchman’s victory at the Austrian Grand Prix at the weekend, saying his comeback from eighth to first was ‘one of the best in recent years’.
Verstappen started the race at the Red Bull Ring in second, only to quickly fall down the positions after he suffered a stalled engine. However, he put in a remarkable performance thereafter and eventually overtook Charles Leclerc with just two laps to go to claim the victory.
Hakkinen believes the decision not to give the Red Bull driver a penalty for the overtake on Leclerc was the correct one by the stewards, and that the comeback was a special one.
“It was a clear example of hard but fair overtaking.” Hakkinen told Unibet.
“When the two cars got to the apex of the corner, Max had made the overtake. I understand why Leclerc trying to stay on the outside but you cannot use the run-off area to overtake. It was good racing, and Max really deserved this victory.
“Max’s win was enjoyable to watch, especially after the ‘anti-stall’ software caused him to make a bad start and drop to 8th place at the beginning of the race. He said afterwards that he thought it was all over, but began a comeback drive that is one of the very best in recent years.
“There is nothing like watching a top driver in a competitive car coming through the field like this. No one was going to stop him!”
The 1998 and 1999 world champion has previously criticised the current F1 product for being too conservative and regulated, and is pleased that the drivers were finally allowed to race hard in Austria.
“I have said before that it is so important for drivers to be able to drive flat-out instead of nursing the car and protecting their tyres, and Max’s choice of medium and then hard tyres worked out perfectly,” Hakkinen continued.
“After making a late pit stop he was able to push really hard in the second part of the race, overtaking car after car, including both Mercedes and finally Charles for the lead – 3 laps from the end of the race.”
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