Two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen believes that the sport is still exciting, despite criticisms this year - particularly after the opener in Bahrain, which was heavily slated for being processional and rather dull.

Indeed while the subsequent two races in Australia and Malaysia have been better, with rain playing a role in spicing up both those events, many still reckon that the lack of overtaking is a real issue and only recently F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone warned that the sport got 'lucky' in Malaysia and Australia [see separate story - click here].

Speaking in an interview with the New Zealand Herald,, Hakkinen however, disagreed and added that there is still plenty to enjoy, even if rule changes for 2010 banning refuelling have changed the spectacle somewhat.

"The sport is still exciting," Hakkinen said, "although some tracks make for better racing than others. People have to have a deeper and better understanding of F1 and understand what the driver is going through and what the teams are doing.

"They should study it. If you just turn on your television and watch the Grand Prix and watch people go around and around, it's boring and you change the channel. The more knowledge you have, the more interesting it is. There is so much more technical information available now, including on-board cameras, but you have to be interested in that stuff.

"The racing is [also] harder today [too]. And it just gets harder all the time. When I was racing it was incredible how tough it was. At the moment it's harder than ever, especially with all the politics and money now.

"There are more drivers now who have a better understanding of technology and how a car works. And the competition for seats is tougher."

Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel is currently viewed as the favourite for the F1 2010 title, but while Mika agrees the German has a great chance, he still thinks it is far too early to say how things will turn out.

"We have definitely seen that Sebastian Vettel is number one at the moment and he's the hot cookie for now," Hakkinen added. "He's really driving flat out at the moment and not talking much or complaining. His plan is to turn up at a Grand Prix and win it, simple as that.

"We still have to wait and see for a few more races though to see who will be the real contenders for the championship. Everybody is still developing and the cars are getting better and being competitive.

"There are many world champions out there who know how to do it, including [F1 returnee] Michael Schumacher."