Mika Hakkinen: F1 street circuits are “absolutely great” | Top Gear
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Mika Hakkinen: F1 street circuits are “absolutely great”

Well, this surprised us. Mika Hakkinen tells TG that F1 street circuits like Miami and Baku just add to the challenge

Published: 13 Jan 2023
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Street circuits like Miami and Baku are “brilliant” and “absolutely great”, reckons F1 legend and two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen. Keyboard warriors, you have been told.

In a wide-ranging interview with TG at the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi - which covered Max Verstappen’s second title, Daniel Ricciardo’s uncertain future and George Russell’s relationship with teammate Lewis Hamilton - Hakkinen caught us off guard with his positive view of street tracks.

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Let’s not forget this is the only driver who Michael Schumacher ever feared, and a man who won his world titles in 1998 and 1999 when only three grands prix were held on street circuits: Australia, Monaco and Canada.

Almost a third of the 2023 season will take place on street venues, including five of the first seven races.

“We know the cities can offer so many attractions for fans,” explained the Finn. “You have restaurants, you have shopping malls, you have beautiful hotels. People can look at the race from their balcony.

“And if people can stay in a boat, it’s a luxury. Formula 1 is Formula 1, it’s a luxury business, and people can enjoy incredible atmosphere. So to have races in the cities, I think it’s brilliant.”

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And not just for fans, but for the competitors too. “It gives more challenges for the teams and the drivers. But you know, drivers, we are paid to take these challenges and bring a great show for the fans. Go flat out.”

But isn't there a danger that the best, traditional racetracks - which tend to deliver the closest wheel-to-wheel action - will get squeezed off the calendar?

“I think it’s just purely a balance,” says Hakkinen. “Every race cannot be a city, and every race cannot be out of the cities. So it has to be a balance.

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“And it’s common sense: we know that street circuits require compromises, you cannot move big buildings, you cannot have huge hills and camber changes in the corners. You have to have compromises.

“Life is the same thing. We cannot have everything that we want.”

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