“If Daniel decides to have one 12 months off, from expertise I do know as soon as you permit this sport usually you shouldn’t come again.”
Few persons are higher positioned to speak about Method 1 drivers taking sabbaticals than two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen.
After profitable back-to-back titles with McLaren, Hakkinen narrowly misplaced out on a 3rd F1 title in 2000 to Michael Schumacher after which was powerless to cease Schumacher from romping to the crown in 2001 in dominant style.
That led to Hakkinen’s determination to take a sabbatical from F1 on the finish of 2001 which might flip right into a fully-fledged retirement as he by no means returned to racing in F1 once more.
Outgoing McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he’ll spend 2023 on the sidelines however has emphasised his need to return to F1 in 2024 if he can discover the precise mission.
Comparisons have been drawn between Hakkinen and Ricciardo however there are key variations because the two-time F1 champion factors out to Edd Straw on the brand new ‘Flat Out with Mika Hakkinen’ part of The Race F1 Podcast.
“I feel my place was a little bit bit totally different as a result of I used to be already a two-time world champion, I’d achieved my targets,” Hakkinen stated.
“Daniel has a unique scenario. His efficiency has been dropping, he’s not going flat-out there. So persons are undecided with him if he’s fast sufficient.
“That might make it tough having a 12 months off and coming again as a result of if you happen to’re not fast sufficient, there’s all the time some sort of rationalization, some cause.
“And I really feel he’s not giving this data very clearly to media, to followers, to the workforce. That’s a bit scary, you need to know why I’m not capable of maximise my efficiency to the identical stage as my team-mate.”
Then-McLaren boss Ron Dennis satisfied Hakkinen to make his retirement announcement a sabbatical plan on the finish of 2001, however the Finn revealed that early in 2002 he knew he wasn’t going to return to racing in F1.
“I assumed ‘OK if you happen to really feel prefer it I’d admire it, I’ll see what occurs’,” Hakkinen stated of his determination to announce a sabbatical relatively than a retirement.
“However I did recognise after three-four months, when the season  began and I used to be in Monaco or wherever I used to be, I used to be undoubtedly feeling like ‘no method I wished to return there’.
“It requires a lot vitality, a lot energy out of your physique and physiologically, quite a lot of vitality. I knew that method it doesn’t matter if I’ve one 12 months off, I can not come again. I already knew that midway by means of the season that I’m not coming again.
“If Daniel decides to have one 12 months off, from expertise I do know as soon as you permit this sport usually you shouldn’t come again. You’ll be able to’t carry out on the market whereas pondering ‘ought to I retire or not’. [You have to] go flat-out each second.”
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Ricciardo has been comprehensively outperformed by his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris since he switched from Renault to McLaren in 2021.
The Australian has scored simply 21% of the workforce’s factors this season, struggling to adapt to McLaren’s 2022 automobile and unable to constantly drive it in the way in which Norris does.
“It’s undoubtedly not straightforward,” Hakkinen stated of Ricciardo’s scenario.
“After I was racing we had quite a lot of testing, we had been testing these vehicles continually.
“The automobile was tailored for you and now the vehicles are usually not actually tailored for you as a result of you aren’t allowed to do testing.
“So the engineers should do quite a lot of calculations, again within the manufacturing unit to construct the automobile for the approaching season.
“If the driving force complains through the weekend of some driving stability downside with the automobile, they will change the springs, the aerodynamic, the differential, the braking stability, tyre pressures, however they’re additionally fairly restricted today what you’re allowed to vary.
“The issues you are able to do are little or no. And if you happen to do have a driving model which is aggressive within the entry, then it’s essential to construct the set-up in a method the automobile nonetheless handles properly in mid-corner and exit.
“However if you happen to can not change the geometries of the entrance suspension or rear suspension, it makes your life actually difficult, which means you need to adapt for this situation.
“Adapting your driving model if the automobile doesn’t work, it’s terrible. It’s not enjoyable in any respect but when your team-mate can do it, then you are able to do it too.”
Hakkinen known as Ricciardo a “nice character” and expressed his hope that the McLaren driver can flip issues round and proceed in F1 in 2024.
However he additionally highlighted the dangerous strikes Ricciardo has made throughout his profession, having first left Pink Bull for Renault on the finish of 2018 after which switched to McLaren two years later.
Hakkinen in distinction joined McLaren in 1993 (pictured above) after spending his first two years in F1 with Workforce Lotus and remained at McLaren till his retirement on the finish of 2001.
“I joined McLaren, a workforce with an unbelievable historical past,” Hakkinen defined.
“You had all the nice champions racing with that workforce and I assumed now trying on the historical past, loads of different groups sending presents to me, however I have a look at their historical past they usually [the other teams] don’t have a extremely robust historical past.
“I need to give attention to this workforce within the long-term. This long-term, folks be taught who you might be, you be taught the engineers.
“They be taught to know your driving method, they usually know long-term what it’s essential to have a automobile to win.
“And I feel Daniel modified his workforce very often, Pink Bull, Renault, McLaren and altering groups, I all the time suppose it’s a threat.
“Folks be taught to know who you might be, however understanding what’s your driving method, not so easy to see that, to elucidate that.
“To do this requires a very long time.”