May 27 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Mika Hakkinen has leapt to Max Verstappen’s defence after his high-speed crash at Monaco.
Critics blasted teenager Verstappen’s young age and inexperience after the frightening Ste Devote crash, and the FIA issued a five-place grid demotion for Canada and added two penalty points to his super licence.
17-year-old Verstappen, however, claimed on Wednesday that he only crashed due to being dangerously “brake-tested” by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean.
Hakkinen, a two-time world champion, told the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat: “Grosjean was on a different line as in previous laps.
“He also drove at a different speed. I think if the Lotus had not changed its speed and trajectory, it is likely that the overtaking manoeuvre would have been completed successfully,” the Finn added.
“In my opinion,” said Hakkinen, “these penalties were incorrect.”
With a similar view is another former F1 driver, Dutchman Jan Lammers.
He told De Telegraaf newspaper he does “not understand” the FIA’s decision to penalise Verstappen.
“Anyone with any interest in formula one should thank God for the arrival of Max,” said Lammers.
“Thanks to him, people are watching races again at the edges of their seats, and then with this penalty … it makes me wonder what people want.
“It is not good reasoning to say it’s because he is 17 and they want to give him a signal. I think going into that barrier was a clear enough signal,” he insisted.
Hakkinen, meanwhile, said that while he disagrees Verstappen should have been punished, he thinks Daniel Ricciardo deserved a penalty for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday.
He said: “Daniel has demonstrated many times that as soon as someone leaves a gap, he rushes into it without thinking if it is an excessive risk or not.”