Two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen comments on the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix in his post-race column for Unibet:
“Kimi Raikkonen had another strong weekend in China, and it looks very much that the Ferrari car and tyres in 2018 really suit his driving style. Like Valtteri, Kimi prefers a car to have a good front end; by which I mean a car that really turns into corners positively rather than understeering. When he has a car that suits his style, Kimi naturally feels more comfortable and therefore able to maximise the performance. He can attack in a very positive way, and then the lap times come down and the results start to come. He is pushing Vettel hard, and if the Ferrari strategy had been handled a little differently I think he could have won a race already this year.
The really big picture after Sunday’s race is that Formula One in 2018 is genuinely exciting. Some people have been saying for the last few years that the sport has become a little boring and predictable, but you cannot say that now. Ferrari won the first two races, Red Bull Racing won in Shanghai, and Mercedes-Benz has yet to win a race; it is all quite uncertain, which is great. From my perspective there are two reasons Formula One is delivering a better spectacle. The first is the Pirelli tyres, as there is a wider choice of tyres and overall the compounds available are softer than before. This creates a narrower window of performance on each tyre and it looks like Mercedes have suffered. They have had one or two struggles before, but this year it is much more noticeable, and in the meantime both Ferrari and Red Bull have benefitted.
The second reason for the shift in balance within the sport is that some key regulations have stayed the same and, over time, the top teams have become more equal in terms of performance. Mercedes-Benz did their homework really well four years ago whenever the hybrid-engine regulations were introduced, and they had a big lead. The regulations also really limited both development and testing, so it has taken some time for the competition to catch up. It looks like we now have three teams capable of winning Grands Prix on a consistent basis, which is fantastic news.
I personally do not think that Ferrari has suddenly made a big step forward, or Mercedes-Benz a big step backwards. Formula One is so complex that the results reflect the work of hundreds of engineers in each team, and therefore each solution – or problem – is the result of many different people inputting lots of different ideas.
Against this complicated background, I would not expect Mercedes to return to a position of dominance very easily. We are ‘game on’ for more unexpected results in the races ahead.” – Former Formula One driver Mika Hakkinen wrote in his post-race column for Unibet.