Mika Hakkinen was notoriously less than verbal when racing in F1, often confounding interviewers with a single word answer when they had been expecting at least a sentence. Now retired from the sport, former double champion Hakkinen got rather ...
Mika Hakkinen was notoriously less than verbal when racing in F1, often confounding interviewers with a single word answer when they had been expecting at least a sentence. Now retired from the sport, former double champion Hakkinen got rather talkative on the subject of F1's current crop of contenders.McLaren man's yardstick on the grid these days is his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen and also reigning champion Michael Schumacher. Raikkonen and Renault's Fernando Alonso have been attracting a lot of attention but Hakkinen is doubtful about the Spaniard.
"I don't think Fernando is quite in Kimi's class," the Finn told F1 Racing magazine. "I haven't seen anything that really justifies the level of hype that has surrounded him so far. He's quick, but is he Kimi-quick? Is he Michael-quick? I'm not convinced."
BAR's Jenson Button is not a driver whom Hakkinen rates particularly highly either: "He may not be quite as quick as a lot of people think he is," Mika remarked. "He's obviously fast, but is he super-fast? I'm not sure he is."
The media hyped Button in his first year with Williams as being the 'next Senna', something that Hakkinen scoffs at, believing Button got too carried away by his own publicity. "The problems start when the youngster himself starts believing what they write. He was a beginner, not a superstar, and I'm not sure he understood that straight away."
Two other youngsters, Button's teammate Takuma Sato and Sauber's Felipe Massa, were judged by Mika as fast but too "wild".
As for the Williams pairing of Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher, Hakkinen was equally critical. "Ralf is much too inconsistent for someone who's driven more than 100 grands prix," was his opinion. "Sometimes I think he should work a bit more and moan a bit less."
"Sometimes he can be very, very good -- Magny-Cours last year, for example. But then, after that, even though he had no mechanical failures, he scored only five more world championship points."
Montoya had a slightly less rough deal from Hakkinen but he said the Colombian lacked consistency, the same as Ralf. "In 2002 he scored seven poles, which was a fabulous performance," Hakkinen added in regard to Montoya. "But last year he often looked slower than Ralf, especially in qualifying."
For 2004, Hakkinen believes -- surprise, surprise -- that his prot?g? Raikkonen is the favourite to deprive Michael Schumacher of his seventh title. "Either McLaren driver or either Williams driver could do it -- they all have the experience, they all have the speed -- but only one of them has the consistency. And that's Kimi Raikkonen."