F1'S 'MAD MAX': Former F1 driver Mika Hakkinen says age is not to blame after Max Verstappen crashed during the 2015 Monaco GP.Image: AP / Rob Griffith
HELSINKI, Finland - Mika Hakkinen has leapt to 17-year-old Max Verstappen's defence after his high-speed collision and subsequent crash during the 2015 Monaco Formula 1 GP.
Critics have blasted teenager Verstappen's youth and inexperience since the Ste Devote curve impact, (we have a video!) and the International Motorsport Federation has issued a five-place grid demotion for him at the start of the Canadian GP on June 5.
It also added two penalty points to his F1 superlicence.
VIDEO: Watch the crash and decide.
Verstappen, however, claimed on Wednesday (May 27 2015) that he only crashed because he was dangerously "brake-tested" by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean - the car with which Verstappen connected, ripping of his left front wheel and consequently slamming nose-first into a cushioned track barrier.
Hakkinen, a double F1 champion, told the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat: "Grosjean was on a different line, as in previous laps. He also drove at a different speed. If the Lotus had not changed its speed and trajectory it was likely that the overtake would have been completed.
"In my opinion these penalties were incorrect."
With a similar view was another former F1 driver, Dutchman Jan Lammers, who told De Telegraaf in Amsterdam he did not understand the federation's penalties.
Lammers said: "Anybody with any interest in F1 should thank God for the arrival of Max. Thanks to him people are watching races again on the edge of their seat - then this penalty... it makes me wonder what people want.
"It is not good reasoning to say it's because he is 17 and they want to give him a signal. I think going into that barrier was a clear enough signal."
Hakkinen said meanwhile, Daniel Ricciardo deserved a penalty for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen in the same race: "Daniel (Ricciardo) has demonstrated many times that as soon as someone leaves a gap, he rushes into it without thinking if it is an excessive risk or not."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.