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.”