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.”

Verstappen picks illegal Raikkonen pass as favorite F1 2017 overtake

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Max Verstappen has picked his illegal pass on Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap of the United States Grand Prix as his favorite overtake of the Formula 1 season.

Verstappen was one of F1’s most prolific passers through 2017, making 22 overtaking moves as per Pirelli’s end of year data.

When asked to pick out his favorite in a post-season interview on his official website, Verstappen picked his bold move on Raikkonen at the Circuit of The Americas that sparked controversy when he was penalized for completing the overtake off-track.

The Red Bull driver had charged from 16th on the grid to cross the line third, only for a five-second time penalty to deny him a podium and drop him to fourth in a snap call made before the post-race ceremony.

“Of course, at first your initial reaction is something like: ‘Why? It was a great move.’ But when you look at the rules, it was not correct,” Verstappen said.

“Nothing was by the book that whole weekend. Drivers were getting off track without being penalized for it. But you always need to focus on the positives: it was still a nice race and everyone enjoyed the excitement all the way down to the final lap.

“It’s always nice to be on the podium, but to finish fourth after having started sixteenth, is still a great result.

“It wasn’t as painful as most people thought it was. In the end I made my peace with it.”

Asked if it was his best move of the year, Verstappen said: “Yes, because this year I actually didn’t have that many overtakes.

“With this car you are actually only able to overtake on the straights, which is really not that satisfying compared to last year.”