Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen in the traditional author’s column summed up the Italian Grand Prix, which ended with a victorious double of the McLaren team.
I am very happy for everyone at McLaren, last Sunday in Italy they achieved a fantastic winning double. A brilliant result for which they worked hard. I won my two titles for McLaren, I know this team well. And I know what this victory means to them. The nine-year pause between wins is a lot, especially for a team that has won 20 titles.
In Formula 1, it is difficult to find a recipe for new victories. During their collaboration with Honda from 2015 to 2017, the team realized that they needed a new approach. And the results of Sunday’s race were the result of a new strategy. Zach Brown and Andreas Seidl coped brilliantly, the team began a new era. Now it is an incredibly exciting period!
Daniel Riccardo and Lando Norris deservedly finished first and second. They performed strongly in Friday qualifying and Saturday sprint, and on Sunday they controlled the course of the race. It took Daniel a while to get used to the team, but that’s okay. It took me four years to start winning at McLaren – it took him six months.
Moving to a new team means starting to work with new people, adapting to their work style, to work with the machine and all systems. It’s not easy, so Daniel had to work hard. The victory in the Italian Grand Prix was a reward for him and added confidence in his abilities.
With Lando Norris, Riccardo has a young, fast and talented team-mate who has been with McLaren for four years and has been with the team since 2019. Landau is one of the stars of the current season, he has earned points in all races except Hungarian and Belgian, and has already climbed to the podium three times. I’m sure he wanted to bring McLaren the first victory, but he did the right thing – he showed his speed and helped his teammate to win the winning double. His time will come yet.
Daniel and Lando are a strong pair of pilots, and lately it has been clear that the team is getting closer and closer to victory. As soon as Red Bull Racing and Mercedes were not in their best shape, McLaren immediately took advantage of this.
Valtteri Bottas brilliantly piloted the entire weekend. He turned out to be the fastest in qualifying, and in the sprint it was clear how much he likes to race in Monza. Due to the replacement of the propulsion system, he started at the end of the peloton, but had a lot of fun breaking through the peloton. It was nice to see him smile after the finish.
The clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen could have been avoided, but it happens when two title contenders converge on the same section of the track. The stewards decided that Max was more to blame for what happened, and fined him with the loss of seats at the start of the next race. But Max received a much larger penalty – he did not win the race. To defeat Lewis, he must perform better than his opponent.
My old rivals, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, have been involved in incidents more than once, but it is better to avoid collisions, focusing on victory. When contact occurs, you do not know how it will end. Your opponent’s car can be damaged, but you can get hurt too. When riders bump into each other, you are not sure what the consequences will be.
It is much better to stay focused on the race, stick to an optimal strategy and accept the fact that all races cannot be won. Second or third place can be an important result when fighting for the title.
At Silverstone, Max was lucky to avoid injury after a high speed collision with Lewis. On Sunday, we saw Halo’s head protection save Lewis. Two potentially serious incidents in four races are of concern as none of us should take safety for granted.
This year the fight for the title is very tight and interesting to watch. I want to see Max and Lewis give their best on every lap, but I also wish them to finish in all races and go up to the podium. Let the race results decide the fate of the title, not the number of collisions.