Former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has candidly admitted that the current crop of F1 drivers outshine his own capabilities at the zenith of his racing career.
Having clinched the championship title twice with McLaren in 1998 and 1999, Hakkinen’s acknowledgment comes as a testament to the remarkable evolution in the sport since his prime years.
This revelation sheds light on how advancements in technology, science, and enhanced training regimens have elevated the skills and expertise of today’s Formula 1 drivers.
The era that Hakkinen was part of, heralded by his accomplishments, was subsequently overshadowed by the dominant reign of Michael Schumacher and his formidable Ferrari team.
However, in the landscape of 2023, the trajectory of Formula 1 has seen an extraordinary shift, propelled by groundbreaking innovations that have redefined driver training and performance enhancement.
Unlike his era, where the available resources were limited, the contemporary generation of F1 racers benefits from an array of technological marvels and scientific insights.
The convergence of these factors has not only revolutionised the sport but also has contributed to a paradigm shift in how drivers approach their careers.
With access to cutting-edge technology and a wealth of scientific knowledge, the drivers of today are better equipped to fine-tune their driving skills, optimise their fitness regimens, and maximise their performance on the track.
In a reflective interview with Motorsport.com, Hakkinen expressed his views on the transformation he has witnessed.
He stated, “When I look at my career and I observe the following generations who have arrived in F1, they are better drivers than me.”
He further emphasised, “They have much better knowledge.
“I would say the talent is probably the same, but there is everything that surrounds the drivers who arrive in Formula 1.
“They work better, they are more prepared, they are more professional. There has more science to help them become better.”
Hakkinen’s praise of the Formula 1 grid comes as Red Bull enjoys the most dominant season of the team’s existence, currently enjoying a 100% win record this year.
While Max Verstappen is far ahead in the Drivers’ Standings, the battle for ‘best of the rest’ appears wide open, with Mercedes, McLaren, Aston Martin and Ferrari all trading places in the fight for podium positions.
Ahead of the return of Formula 1 after the summer break, Red Bull leads the championship with 503 points, Mercedes is in P2 on 247, Aston Martin is in P3 with 196 and Ferrari is in P4 with 191 points.