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Häkkinen: 'F1 talent among the best I've ever seen'

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Two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen gave Formula 1's talent pool rave reviews as he reflected on the 2017 season.

The Finn underlined the level of expertise at the front of the grid, praising among others countryman Valtteri Bottas, and declared himself mightily impressed with the younger generation knocking on the door of stardom.

"Lewis' achievement in winning four World Championship titles is impressive, and you can see that he has kept the hunger alive, that is critical," Häkkinen wrote in his Unibet blog.

"When I won both my World Championships in 1998 and 1999 I went into 2000 absolutely determined to win a third title, but it was not to be.

"After that year, when I felt my energy levels drop a little, it was not long before I retired.

"I was really delighted to see Valtteri win two Grands Prix. He is a strong, balanced guy, and the wins in Russia and Austria showed he is fully capable.

"He had some tough times in the middle part of the season, but I know how hard he has worked to get to where he is, and you can be sure he will use the off-season to build on everything he has learned.

"As I have said before, Max Verstappen was the standout driver of the season because he is so exciting to watch.

"The two wins in Malaysia and Mexico showed that both he and the team have been getting stronger, and with Daniel Ricciardo winning in Baku, it means Ferrari and Mercedes could never relax.

"Behind the top three teams, there was a lot of interest, particularly with the new generation of drivers coming through.

"Stoffel Vandoorne, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz Jr. are exciting to watch.

"When you consider that their team-mates Fernando Alonso, Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg are very quick, the driving talent in Formula 1 today is probably among the best it has ever been."

Still very much a McLaren man at heart, Häkkinen is impatiently waiting to see the Woking-based outfit revive its former luster following its switch from Honda power to Renault for 2018.

"I know just how excited everyone at McLaren is to start a new chapter in its history, and there is huge determination to win again after a difficult few seasons.

"Zak Brown is one of the most ambitious guys in the F1 paddock, and everyone in the McLaren organisation is working hard to make sure that much better times lie ahead.

"With the Renault team also likely to make progress, Honda trying hard to rebuild its reputation with Toro [Rosso] and Alfa Romeo supporting Sauber, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to Formula 1 in 2018."

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