Mika Hakkinen explains ‘naughty’ Sergio Perez comment

Sergio Pérez followed team orders and allowed Max Verstappen to take the lead in Spain and Azerbaijan last season.

Double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes Max Verstappen will once again beat team-mate Sergio Pérez, and he claimed that the Mexican is too “obedient”.

Verstappen raised his game to another level last season, with the 25-year-old having been virtually untouchable.

With 15 wins and 454 points, Verstappen broke the records for most wins and most points scored in a season, highlighting his superiority.

Incredibly, despite his achievements from last year, Hakkinen believes “his talent will further develop”, with the Finn not seeing anybody on the grid who’s “faster than him”.

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“Max Verstappen is a very strong driver, that’s obvious,” Hakkinen told Unibet. “

He always has been. He’s worked hard to become the driver he is today. Is there currently someone faster than him on the track? I doubt it. I don’t think there is. 

“The championships have reinforced his self-confidence. He knows better how to prepare for the season. He’s still young. 

“The team knows what he can do, the team believes in him 100 per cent. His talent will further develop, it won’t go backwards, it develops. 

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“Now it only comes down to one thing – if the team fails in their technical development, making the car unreliable and not being able to score points. 

“That’s when the other teams can get the upper hand. That’s the only thing stopping them.”

Hakkinen does recognise that Verstappen perhaps uses the dark arts to his advantage, with the Dutchman not always being the easiest to deal with over the team radio.

His team-mate on the other hand, is a team’s dream, with Pérez always remaining in-line when it comes to following orders.

The Mexican relinquished the race lead in Spain and Azerbaijan last season to Verstappen, after being told to do so, with the Dutch driver having gone on to win both races.

Yet on the one occasion where the team asked Verstappen to allow Pérez past for sixth place in Brazil, he refused to do so.

Hakkinen views this as “dirty”, but also recognises that unless granted help by the team radio, it would take something “supernatural” from Pérez to beat Verstappen.

With this in mind, Hakkinen doesn’t see Pérez beating Verstappen this season, with the Mexican needing to “admit” that he “can’t beat Max”.

“Perez is a good team-mate,” Hakkinen said.

“He’s allowed to be the naughty one. He seems to be very obedient. 

“What I mean by being naughty is that sometimes the team asks him to do things, such as slowing others down. Sergio doesn’t care. He’ll slow them down, if the team wants. 

“Whether it’s the qualifying or the race, he’ll do what he’s asked to do. I think it’s dirty, but if it works, it works. 

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“It’s a question of one’s image, though. But that’s how it goes sometimes. You won’t get that far unless you think you’re fast.

“But when you have a team-mate like Max, you need to be realistic and look in the mirror. You need to admit you can’t beat Max. 

“It takes something almost supernatural to beat Max. Perez will be second, there’s no question about it.”