In a traditional column, two-time champion Mika Hakkinen talked about Lewis Hamilton’s 91st win and Nico Hulkenberg’s skill …
Mika Hakkinen: “I am impressed that Lewis Hamilton caught up in the number of victories with Michael Schumacher. In Formula 1, it is difficult to win even one race, and in 14 years to win 91 victories is an incredible achievement that Lewis can justly be proud of. It takes a lot to win a race or a title: a fast car, a good partner and the support of a strong team – Lewis has it all in Mercedes. But you yourself have to be an excellent racer.
Lewis has won Formula 1 races since he was 21 and continues to do so now that he is 35. I know how much strength it takes to win two titles. I realized that I ended my career at the right moment – when I was 33 years old. You can’t think that Lewis owes his achievements only to the best car in the peloton. This requires talent, great physical shape, dedication and an incredible desire to win. Lewis has it all.
I am very glad that after the race Mick Schumacher presented Lewis with one of his father’s helmets. Michael was a great opponent. He would have been the first to acknowledge Lewis’s accomplishments, so Mick did the right thing when, on behalf of Michael, paid tribute to Hamilton.
Lewis will surpass this record soon, and it’s hard to imagine how many more races he will win before he decides to retire. Of course, Michael has a record for the number of victories per season – 13, so nothing threatens his place in history, but now he shares the first place with Lewis.
Throughout his career in Formula 1, Hamilton has always needed a strong partner – from Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen to Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and now Valtteri Bottas.
Valtteri had a great weekend at the Nurburgring: he won pole position, beat off his attack at the start, while maintaining the lead. But when you’re in the lead in a race, it’s easy to make a mistake, especially when it starts to rain. On lap 12, he blocked the wheels in the first corner – and Lewis got a chance to get ahead of his partner. And although Valtteri retired due to engine problems, he can be happy with the weekend – if he can be so ahead of his partner in qualifying and fight him in the race, it will benefit him and Mercedes.
Max Verstappen showed that Red Bull Racing continues to make progress with the car – he again performed excellently and finished second, but lost not much to Mercedes, giving them cause for concern. Honda has announced its retirement from Formula 1, but let’s hope that the Japanese company will continue to support both teams until the end of 2021, because if you really assess the situation, Red Bull Racing is the only serious contender for Mercedes next year.
To win the first podium since returning to Formula 1, Renault took longer than they bargained for. Daniel Riccardo did everything he could, I’m glad to see him on the podium again. Fernando Alonso should like the progress of his new team as he looks forward to podiums next year when Renault is renamed Alpine. Apparently, he has cause for optimism.
I want to mention two more riders – Kimi Raikkonen and Niko Hulkenberg. Kimi made his Formula 1 debut when Lewis was only 16, and the Finn’s new record of 323 Grand Prix starts shows that he still loves Formula 1. He has a huge army of fans, and although Alfa Romeo faced the same problems with engine as Ferrari, Kimi continues to enjoy racing.
Niko Hulkenberg had a unique challenge. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be asked to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car at 11am on Saturday morning and qualify without any training. His points in the race show that he is in good shape, and if Sergio finished fourth, then Racing Point has a great car.
All racers dream of being called and offered to drive Formula 1, even when drinking coffee on Saturday morning. If Zach Brown offered me this opportunity, I might agree. After all, I’m not much older than Kimi! “