Marko fears for Max against Hamilton’s ‘rocket’ engine

Date published: November 16 2021 - Michelle Foster

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pulls in front of Max Verstappen. Brazil November 2021

Max Verstappen has a 14-point lead in the Drivers’ standings but Helmut Marko fears the worst if Lewis Hamilton continues with his Sao Paulo GP pace.

Whether it is engine related, coming from the rear wing or just Hamilton showing why he’s a seven-time World Champion, the Mercedes driver put in a masterclass performance at the Interlagos circuit on Sunday.

Racing his way to 10th on the grid to the win, Hamilton reduced Verstappen’s advantage in the title race to just 14 points.

Such was his pace on the day that Auto Motor und Sport reports that the delta speed between Hamilton and Verstappen was 15.2 km/h at the end of the home straight.

It was an advantage that saw Verstappen unable to defend against Hamilton when he made his move on lap 59, the Brit then putting 10 seconds between himself and the Red Bull in the final 11 laps.

Marko fears Verstappen’s title chances are over if Hamilton continues this form in the final three races of the season.

“There were not two rockets, but one,” the Red Bull advisor told AMuS. “Only the Hamilton [car] has such an unbelievable surplus on the straights.

“Despite the lead, I see us at a disadvantage if Hamilton maintains this engine advantage.”

In a separate interview with Austrian television station ORF, Marko spoke about the Mercedes power unit with Hamilton taking a brand new ICE in Brazil.

As it was his fifth of the season, that meant a five-place grid penalty but one that the ICE gave him the power to easy overhaul.

“We haven’t seen an engine like that from Mercedes in recent years, as far as I can remember,” Marko said. “Unbelievable.

“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.”

He added: “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.”

With Mercedes bagging a double podium at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas third on the day, the Brackley squad extended its lead in the Constructors’ Championship from one to 11 points.