Mika Hakkinen says Charles Leclerc driving on with a badly damaged front wing at the Japanese Grand Prix brought back memories of Roland Ratzenberger's fatal crash at Imola in 1994.
Ratzenberger died after crashing during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix, having opted to remain on-track and attempt another timed lap after damaging the front wing on his Simtek car the lap prior.
Leclerc raced on for three laps in Suzuka last weekend after damaging his front wing in a lap-one collision with Max Verstappen. Ferrari failed to call Leclerc into the pits and his wing eventually failed in dramatic fashion, slinging carbon fibre into the path of the cars behind, with Lewis Hamilton being saved from having a large shard enter his cockpit by the halo device on his Mercedes.
The Monegasque was given 15 seconds worth of time penalties over the incident, which dropped him from sixth to seventh in the final classification.
Hakkinen wrote of the incident for Unibet: "In my view he should have made the pit stop immediately because there is no point racing with a badly damaged wing that is dragging on the ground. You will compromise your performance, damage the tyres and become a danger to yourself or others.
"It is so important not to suffer wing failure at high speed.
"Remember, it was a damaged front wing which failed and caused Roland Ratzenberger's fatal accident in San Marino in 1994.
"I think we were quite lucky that, when Charles' front wing endplate finally came off, it only damaged Lewis Hamilton's car - destroying his right hand wing mirror. This could have been a lot worse.
"Once again we were reminded why the Halo concept has been such an important safety initiative.
"Personally I do not blame Charles for trying to continue. He said the car did not feel that bad, and anyway he cannot see the front wing from inside the cockpit. However the Ferrari management could see it, and it is not surprising that the FIA imposed a penalty after the race."
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