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Mika Hakkinen

Hakkinen hails 'brilliant' F1 street circuits

While the increasing number of street circuits in F1 has been criticised by many, Mika Hakkinen explains why he is a fan of races on public roads.

Miami achtergrond
To news overview © XPBimages

Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has praised the 'brilliant' addition of more street circuits to the sport's calendar.

When the Finn drove in F1 from 1991 to 2001, the only street circuits to feature regularly throughout those 11 years were Monaco, Australia and Canada, all of which remain to this day.

However, the number of Grands Prix staged on public roads has increased in recent years, with F1 seeing the additions of Jeddah and Miami in the past two seasons.

2023 will also see the much-anticipated addition of a race in Las Vegas, meaning eight of the season's 23 races will be on street circuits, rather than purpose-built facilities.

Some observers have bemoaned downtown events squeezing more established circuits off the calendar, including reigning World Champion Max Verstappen, who said the characteristics of modern F1 cars are not ideally suited to racing on public roads.

However, Hakkinen chose instead to focus on the positive aspects of races being staged in downtown areas.

"We know the cities can offer so many attractions for fans," Hakkinen told Top Gear.

"You have restaurants, you have shopping malls, you have beautiful hotels. People can look at the race from their balcony.

"And if people can stay in a boat, it's a luxury. Formula 1 is Formula 1, it's a luxury business, and people can enjoy incredible atmosphere. So to have races in the cities, I think it's brilliant."

"It gives more challenges for the teams and the drivers. But you know, drivers are paid to take these challenges and bring a great show for the fans."

Getting the balance right

Hakkinen cautioned, however, that a balance would need to be struck to ensure a healthy mix of street tracks and purpose-built facilities on the F1 calendar.

"Every race cannot be a city, and every race cannot be out of the cities. So it has to be a balance," said Hakkinen.

"And it's common sense: we know that street circuits require compromises, you cannot move big buildings, you cannot have huge hills and camber changes in the corners. You have to have compromises.

"Life is the same thing. We cannot have everything that we want."

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