"Track position is everything" - How Ferrari could've won in Japan

18-10-2019 08:30
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
General
Track position is everything - How Ferrari could've won in Japan

Formula 1 legend Mika Hakkinen thinks Ferrari could've walked away with a victory from Japan despite Mercedes' superior race pace on the day, as the two-time champion explains "track position is everything" as Sebastian Vettel showed when defending from Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari had surprisingly locked out the front row at Suzuka on Sunday morning at qualifying, as Mercedes were looking like the team to beat during practice on Friday. 

However, a slow start from both pole sitter Vettel as well as Charles Leclerc saw third-placed Valtteri Bottas swoop past and take the lead into turn one and the Finn never looked back again, winning his first race since Baku earlier this year.

Hakkinen explains Ferrari lost the race here, as he thinks staying in front of the Silver Arrows early could've been the key to a fourth win in five races for the Italian team.

“Ferrari will again realise that this race offered them a potential victory because, even though the Mercedes cars were quicker in the race, track position is everything as Sebastian showed," the 51-year-old wrote in his column for Unibet.

"Sebastian worked hard to hold on to second place, coming under severe pressure from Lewis during the final 10 laps but using his experience and the horsepower of his Ferrari to stay in front. 

"He also used the traffic really well, which is an indication of his huge experience, as he was able to get the DRS system to work in his favour at just the right time."

The former McLaren driver did criticise both Ferrari drivers for their starts, as Vettel was slow because of a jump-start and Leclerc because he made contact with Max Verstappen at turn two, which damaged his SF90.

“When you make mistakes at this level you will be punished, and especially when a team like Mercedes Benz is ready to take advantage of them.”

Hakkinen also weighed in on the debate regarding Leclerc and his penalties, particularly the one he got for staying on track despite having a damaged car and potentially endagering other drivers, as we saw when his mirror flew off.

"There has been a lot of comment about Charles and Ferrari not making a pit stop straight away to repair the damage," he continued.

"In my view he should have made the pit stop immediately because there is no point racing with a badly damaged wing that is dragging on the ground. You will compromise your performance, damage the tyres and become a danger to yourself or others."

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