Hakkinen Predicts Nail-Biting End to McLaren-Ferrari F1 Battle Amidst Resurgence of Daniel Ricciardo

Published 10/26/2021, 5:38 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 12, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo celebrates winning the race on the podium REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini


While Mercedes and Red Bull are battling hard for the world championship title this season, Ferrari and McLaren have been busy battling for consolation – P3. And so far, it has been swinging like a pendulum, with Lando Norris carrying the entire team on his shoulders early on in the season amidst the Daniel Ricciardo struggles.

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However, things were on the verge of taking a wild turn for McLaren, with Norris losing out his shape, and Ferrari consequently re-surging with the crucial engine update in Monza. Then arrived the savior in Ricciardo, right when the team needed him the most.

He pulled McLaren back on track with the race victory at the Italian Grand Prix, the home of their rivals. Unlike the first half of the season, Ricciardo is looking much quicker than his teammate, who not only lost his P3 to Valtteri Bottas but further dropped down to P5 following Sergio Perez’s podium in the US.

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Daniel Ricciardo – The X-factor in the McLaren-Ferrari battle

Looking at the way Ricciardo is performing at the moment, former F1 driver, Mika Hakkinen, reckoned that the Honey Badger is now the biggest difference in the ongoing Ferrari-McLaren rivalry.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during practice REUTERS/Mike Blake

I think Daniel is in much better shape at this point of the season compared to early in the year when he was struggling a little. The win in Monza has made a difference and in Austin, it was clear that he has a lot more confidence in the car,” he wrote to Unibet.

The battle between him, Lando, and the two Ferrari driver is going to be incredibly close as we head into the final five Grands Prix,” he added.

Battle for P5 in the driver’s championship

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Norris initially looked like the prime candidate to secure P3 in the driver’s championship. Unfortunately, that isn’t meant to be, with both Bottas and Perez pulling out solid performances in the second half of the seaosn. Meanwhile, the Hungary incident was certainly a bump in Norris’ high-flying campaign, as he then lost his ground to Ricciardo.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in action during qualifying REUTERS/Brian Snyder

As of now, Norris is holding onto P5 with 149 points in hand. And Ferrari are quite steadily inching closer to the Briton, with the gap between Leclerc and Norris now down to 21 points. Also, the 2021 United States GP marked Ricciardo as the eighth driver of the season to cross the triple-figure mark in terms of championship points.

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So, with just 44 points now separating the two McLaren teammates and five more races left in hand, the battle is on! Norris is under threat of losing more positions to Leclerc and Sainz, and possibly even Ricciardo. So, amidst the close-fought battle, who is going to leap ahead ultimately?

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Rohit Kumar

1410 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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