Former McLaren driver and two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, stating their fight on Sunday reminded him of the battles between legends Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
The battle for the 2021 F1 crown looks like it will be a straight fight between the Mercedes and Red Bull stars. Both men seem to be on another level when compared to the rest of the field and are set to entice fans with several on track squabbles, similar to their tussle at the closing stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"Seeing Lewis and Max battling for victory reminded me of my fights with Michael Schumacher, and everyone in F1 remembers the great battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost," Hakkinen said in his column for Unibet.
"When you get drivers and teams so closely matched, the racing is really exciting and memorable."
Hakkinen believes Mercedes will now have to react to being the second quickest team on the grid as opposed to leading the field, something the German outfit had become accustomed to over the past seven years.
"Mercedes are having to learn how to respond to the Red Bull challenge," Hakkinen said.
"When you don’t have the quickest car it’s important to focus on strategy to try and force your competitors into a corner. This is what Mercedes managed to do on Sunday by getting Lewis to undercut Max during the first pit stops.
"Track position is so important. When you put a guy like Lewis in front, he is then able to use all his experience to manage the tyres and defend the position.
"We knew from the short, three days of pre-season testing that Red Bull and Honda had developed a fantastic car this year. But we all suspected that Mercedes might again be the top team in Bahrain, mainly because it has been this way since 2014!"