Mercedes could decide to put a fresh engine in Sir Lewis Hamilton’s car for the Championship-decider in Abu Dhabi, Sky F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz has warned.
Following Hamilton’s victory last time out in Saudi Arabia, he and Verstappen head to the season finale in the UAE capital level on 369.5 points.
The Brit has won the last three grand prix, with Mercedes having the upper-hand over Red Bull towards the end of the season.
However, Red Bull are expected to be closer to the Silver Arrows in Abu Dhabi, and Kravitz believes Mercedes might decide to install a brand-new engine in Hamilton’s car.
This would result in the seven-time World Champion being handed a five-place grid drop, but, as we saw in the 2021 Sao Paulo Grand Prix, the pace benefit from running a new engine could potentially more than make up for this.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Championship climax, Kravitz said that Mercedes are concerned about Verstappen colliding with Hamilton to guarantee he wins the Championship, while Red Bull are worried about Mercedes having blistering straight-line speed if they opt to run a new engine.
“What do Mercedes fear most? Max Verstappen taking out Lewis Hamilton and winning the Championship that way,” Kravitz said.
“I don’t really see there are any other things they have to fear.
“They have the package that seems to be quickest at the moment, they have done the hat-trick in the last three races and they always have the option of putting a new power unit in.
“[An engine change] is possible because then what do Red Bull fear most? A Mercedes the like of which Lewis Hamilton had in Brazil, which was nigh-on unbeatable. Not my words – the words of Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal,” he added.