Senior Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has warned that Max Verstappen could be at a disadvantage in his Championship battle with Sir Lewis Hamilton as we go into the final three races of the season.
Verstappen heads to Qatar with a 14-point lead over Hamilton, after the British driver gained on the Dutch ace last time out in Brazil despite being disqualified from Friday’s qualifying and suffering a five-place grid drop after Saturday’s sprint for taking on a new internal combustion engine.
Hamilton’s Mercedes had tremendous straight-line speed at Interlagos as a result of the new engine, and he was able to ease his way up the order.
Speaking after the race, Dr Marko warned Verstappen could be at a disadvantage despite him leading the Drivers’ Standings.
“There were not two rockets, but one,” the Austrian said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.
“Only the Hamilton [car] has such an unbelievable surplus on the straights.
“Despite the lead [in the standings], I see us at a disadvantage if Hamilton maintains this engine advantage.”
In another interview with Austria’s ORF broadcaster, Dr Marko said the engine in Hamilton’s car was “unbelievable” and said Mercedes “have done a masterpiece to conjure up such a rocket at this crucial stage.”
“We haven’t seen an engine like that from Mercedes in recent years, as far as I can remember. Unbelievable,” he said.
“And it’s only Hamilton’s power unit. All the others are within the normal range.
“Mercedes have done a masterpiece to conjure up such a rocket at this crucial stage.”
Continuing, Dr Marko said: “Hamilton won it on the straights. Max was on average two to three tenths faster in the middle sector, risked everything, had to drive on the limit.
“Of course, that also had an influence on the tyres. But it was the only way to not get caught on the straights.”