Mika Hakkinen finds it "amazing" to see the impact that racing in high altitude had on Ferrari's performance at the Mexican Grand Prix. It was a difficult weekend for the Scuderia, with Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc qualifying in P5 and P7 respectively in Saturday's qualifying. Sainz finished in the same position in Sunday's race, while Leclerc made up one place to end the day in sixth, putting the team behind both Red Bull and Mercedes cars. Hakkinen admits that the effect of racing in thin air had quite a drastic consequence for Ferrari. "Ferrari were really unable to compete with Red Bull or Mercedes this weekend, and again it was down to the thin air at that high altitude which meant they could not run their turbocharged engines at full power," Hakkinen told Unibet . "It’s amazing to see how these aspects can influence performance so dramatically." While team boss Mattia Binotto has acknowledged the role that turning the power units down had on the team's result, he has also suggested that there were additional issues affecting their performance .
Hakkinen praises Verstappen and Red Bull
While Ferrari had a challenging outing in Mexico City, it was another successful weekend for 2022 World Champion Max Verstappen, who clinched a record-breaking 14th win of the season. Hakkinen has praised the Dutchman and his Red Bull team for their performance on a day where a potential challenge from Mercedes fell away. "It has been an incredible season for Max and the Red Bull team," Hakkinen said. "They are in that perfect position of having total confidence in themselves, their car and race strategy. "In the early part of the race Max managed to protect his Soft compound tyres in spite of Lewis [Hamilton] pushing hard in second position, and when he then switched to Mediums you could see that Mercedes’ selection of Hard tyres for Lewis was too conservative. "Basically Mercedes' drivers were on tyres which were one compound too hard throughout the race, while Red Bull got it just right."
Verstappen on a 'different level', says Hakkinen
Hakkinen expects Verstappen to be in a strong position to add to his win tally at the final two races of the campaign. "To win 14 Grands Prix in one season is crazy, something we have never seen before," the Finn added. "It’s a fantastic achievement for Max and his team – and they can easily add to that in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. When you look at Sergio Perez’s result, finishing third, it shows how tight the margins really are. "Max is on a different level."