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Hakkinen impressed as Ferrari turn their recent weakness into a strength

Mika Hakkinen has weighed in with his thoughts on the developing battle between Ferrari and Red Bull for this year's top prizes in F1.

Mika Hakkinen has praised Ferrari for beating Red Bull in a "straight fight" by displaying "confidence" with their strategy in the Austrian Grand Prix. While Red Bull held the advantage in qualifying at the Sprint, Ferrari had the upper hand in race trim with stronger tyre management across both compounds used. Ferrari were set for a comfortable 1-2 finish until the Spaniard's late engine failure, but Leclerc's victory still marked a breakthrough in their quest for both titles. Writing in his latest blog for Unibet , two-time World Champion Hakkinen observed: "Ferrari beat Red Bull in a straight fight and that will give them a lot of confidence at this mid-point of the season. "Ferrari have worked hard to find the straight-line speed they need to compete against Red Bull, but at the weekend we also saw that they had better tyre performance on a circuit which normally suits the Red Bulls."

Hakkinen praises Ferrari's strategic decisions

Ferrari have been criticised for their approach to race strategy in recent seasons, with the 2022 campaign featuring several more incidents. This included Leclerc losing potential wins in Monaco (where he pitted amid mixed messages from his engineer) and Great Britain (where he was left out on old Hard tyres during a late Safety Car period). Hakkinen noted the decisive nature of Ferrari's strategic calls at the Red Bull Ring, and stressed that this must continue if they are to remain in the fight. "Ferrari's race strategies have caused some problems this year, but not on Sunday," emphasised Hakkinen. "When they saw Max switch to a two-stop strategy they followed, but by making their pit-stops significantly later they always retained a strong tyre advantage. "This is the kind of confident strategy Ferrari will need to maintain if they are to consistently challenge Red Bull."

Still work for Ferrari to do amid reliability concerns

In addition to strategy, Hakkinen pointed to reliability as a potentially deciding factor this season. "Carlos' engine failure shows that Ferrari still have work to do on reliability and I am sure they must know where the problems lie," he continued. "Charles cannot afford to have those kinds of failures if he is to close the gap to Max. "In fact, he needs Max to have a non-finish if the points gap in the World Championship is to really close down." Leclerc now sits 38 points adrift of leader Verstappen in the Drivers' standings, while Red Bull hold a 56-point advantage over Ferrari in the Constructors' battle.

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