Mika Hakkinen wants Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to keep their battle on the circuit rather than it becoming an off-track war of words.
Tensions between the title rivals boiled over at the British Grand Prix where they collided on the first lap of the race, resulting in Verstappen crashing out whilst Hamilton went on to win, though the Mercedes driver received a 10-second penalty for his part in the clash. Hakkinen is concerned that, if such an incident were to happen again, the rivalry could result in some verbal disagreements.
"[If they crash again] it will end up in a war of words," Hakkinen told RTL. "And that is not the way to do it in my opinion. The action on the track should take away those emotions."
Despite this, Hakkinen is enjoying seeing the fight for the World Championship play out between the experienced Hamilton and the challenger Verstappen.
"That's what it's all about!" the former F1 driver said. "[They are] two characters who fight each other fiercely.
"One – Lewis – has of course won the World Championship many times over the years and gained an incredible amount of experience: in losing, in winning, in working with big teams. On the other hand, there's Max, he hasn't won the [title] yet, is always motivated and has an aggressive driving style. He really believes in himself, which is very important."
Hakkinen might not approve of a war of words developing between Hamilton and Verstappen but he has no problem with the psychological battle that has been unfolding between Mercedes and Red Bull.
"Healthy competition, healthy arguments, are always good," the Finn explained. "Let them argue, let them fight, as long as it's constructive. As long as we, the spectators, get something good."
Hakkinen – who won the World Championship in 1998 and 1999 – thinks that Mercedes' dominance in recent years means that they were perhaps not prepared for the intense fight with Red Bull.
"[The situation requires] a lot of discipline to control emotions and to think and speak very carefully," he said. "But because it's a new situation, people behave a little differently."