Hakkinen comments on Bottas rumors, backs Hamilton over team orders


Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen is not surprised by speculation linking protegé Valtteri Bottas away from Williams for 2015.

The Finn has been the breakout driver of the season so far, scoring three podium finishes and the majority of Williams’ points. After a difficult 2013 campaign with a troublesome car, Bottas has now flourished and met the expectations that many had for him.

Naturally, this has led to speculation about his future, with British newspaper The Guardian linking the Finn with a move to McLaren for 2015. For Hakkinen, this comes as little surprise.

“This is quite natural,” the Finn wrote in his column for Hermes. “Valtteri is still a young driver who has been in Formula 1 for only a short time.

“Valtteri is interesting not only because of his speed; he can motivate the others in the team and manages to create an atmosphere, as it is necessary for success.

“There is interest and that is good. What happens in the future remains to be seen.”

Hakkinen also gave his support to Lewis Hamilton following the Briton’s decision to ignore team orders during the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton was given the call to let teammate Nico Rosberg past as they were on different strategies, but did not allow him to do so. He eventually finished the race ahead of Rosberg, cutting the German’s championship lead to eleven points.

“Nico had the greater pace and softer tires, so the team thought Lewis should let Nico past for the best result,” Hakkinen wrote. “Lewis, of course, looked and noticed that Nico was not close enough in the rear-view mirror.

“He probably worked out that it made no sense to let Nico past because he would lose two seconds and a place on the podium. In my opinion, Lewis was right.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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