Mika Hakkinen: ‘Mercedes at a crossroads, you have to be angry now’

Mika Hakkinen has his say on the problems that Mercedes must solve

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director and
(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Toto Wolff (GER)…

Mercedes are at a “crossroads” and two bad years have “left their mark” on staff, claims Mika Hakkinen.

News that Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari in 2025 means that Mercedes enter this F1 season under a cloud.

With just one grand prix win in two years (via George Russell in 2022), Toto Wolff’s team’s preparation for the upcoming season is in a state of flux.

“Mercedes are at a crossroads,” Hakkinen told Bild, speaking before Hamilton’s shock exit announcement.

“There has not been a question mark over the team for a long time.

“After a decade full of success, the past two seasons have left their mark on those responsible and employees.

“And that's good! You have to be angry now.

“Now you have to develop this unconditional will to win again.

“The team has to become a team again, develop this blind understanding. That is currently missing.”

Hamilton and George Russell will again be paired this season as Mercedes relaunch their bid for competitiveness with the new W15.

But it will be their last year together with Hamilton set for Ferrari in 2025.

“Even though George is entering his third season as a Mercedes driver, it is clear that it is Lewis' team,” Hakkinen said.

“He has been driving there since 2013 and has worked with many of the engineers and mechanics for years.

“It doesn't take ten minutes of analysis from him to explain the problem.

“Little things like these ultimately decide in Formula 1 whether you are in pole position or not.”

Mercedes’ big hope for their future now centres around Russell, who did out-score Hamilton in his first year with the team.

“That's correct. But last season Hamilton finished third and Russell only eighth,” Hakkinen insisted.

“That didn't surprise me.

“On the one hand, Lewis wanted to show it to everyone after the Twilight of the Gods had already been talked about, and on the other hand, George was and continues to be under immense pressure.

“When you're the teammate of a seven-time world champion, all eyes are automatically on you.

“It doesn't matter if you finished on the podium if your teammate won.

“It's the same with all teams - but George is racing against a record champion.”

How the dynamic may change this year, ahead of Hamilton’s exit from the team that he is famous for representing, remains to be seen.

Hakkinen won his two F1 championships in 1998 and 1999 driving for McLaren.

He believes his former team can get closest to the dominant Red Bulls this year.

“I expect a lot from McLaren,” he said.

“After having a disastrous start to the season last year, they have developed very well and, above all, consistently.

“With Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, they probably have the strongest driver pairing next to Ferrari.

“Both have the potential to become world champions.

“Piastri puts pressure on Norris. And Max Verstappen will also feel that this year.”

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