Mika Hakkinen calls Ricciardo “dangerous” in the title race

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Former McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen has said that Mercedes cannot ignore Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as a threat for this year’s Formula 1 drivers’ championship following the Australian’s victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo has won the last two grands prix following mistakes by Mercedes, with an on-track incident between drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton allowing Red Bull to snatch the win away at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend.

Rosberg now leads Hamilton by 29 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, but with Ricciardo sitting just 35 points further back, Hakkinen thinks that Mercedes must improve to ensure that he does not swoop in to take the title.

“In my view, Ricciardo is dangerous,” the two-time world champion told Hermes. “He drives for a team that has won the championship several times in a row. Red Bull has a lot of experience in such situations, and shows a certain composure.

“At Mercedes there is more pressure, and the conflicts between drivers are not helping their aim to win the championship title.”

Hakkinen also weighed in on the debate about team orders, believing that Mercedes should have worked harder to ensure that an on-track collision between its drivers did not happen.

“When a team has the fastest cars, the risk of accidents should be kept very low, especially when you’re still in the early stages [of  a race],” he said. “A collision between teammates, as happened at Spa, should have been prevented in any case.

“The driver should be able to remember that the race is still long and tactics can affect the end result.

“Therefore, it is not worth it in the early stages to make any death-defying attempts.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: All posts, one place

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In case you missed any of MotorSportsTalk’s extensive 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver reviews on NBCSports.com, we’ve combined them all into one post.

See the full rankings below. Of the 38 drivers that raced at least once this year, 23 of them ran anywhere from six races to the full 17-race schedule, and got a full review. Drivers who competed in four or fewer races were packaged into the “remaining part-timers” post.

1. Josef Newgarden
2. Simon Pagenaud
3. Scott Dixon
4. Helio Castroneves
5. Will Power
6. Graham Rahal
7. Alexander Rossi
8. Takuma Sato
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay
10. Tony Kanaan
11. Max Chilton
12. Marco Andretti
13. James Hinchcliffe
14. Ed Jones
15. JR Hildebrand
16. Carlos Munoz
17. Charlie Kimball
18. Conor Daly
19. Mikhail Aleshin
20. Spencer Pigot / 22. Ed Carpenter
21. Sebastien Bourdais / 25. Esteban Gutierrez
23-24, 26-38. All the rest