‘Normally title would already be Max’s, needs one more win’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen drinking champagne next to Lewis Hamilton. Qatar November 2021

Max Verstappen on the podium drinking from the bottle of champagne, and standing with Lewis Hamilton. Qatar November 2021

Max Verstappen must win one of the last two grands prix of this season to stand a shot at winning the title, says Helmut Marko.

The Red Bull driver had pulled out to a 19-point lead after winning the Mexican Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

But, with the Brit winning the next two, that is down to eight points with everything to play for.

There are 52 points still available meaning if Hamilton wins the last two races, no matter what Verstappen does, even if he stops the Mercedes driver from scoring the fastest lap point as he did in Qatar, he will lose the title.

As such Marko says it is “simple”, the 24-year-old has to claim a 10th grand prix win for the season in order to stand a chance.

“We are ahead, but I certainly don’t feel comfortable yet,” the Red Bull motorsport advisor said in an interview with De Telegraaf.

“We have to win one of the last two races, it’s that simple.

“Everything has to be perfect during a weekend.

“It’s only between Max and Lewis, the others are nowhere.”

This year’s championship has been a peculiar one when it comes to Mercedes’ engine. While the Brackley squad’s ICE remains the class of the field, that’s only when it is fresh in the car.

The engine quickly begins to lose performance, which has resulted in Mercedes giving Hamilton five ICEs this season while Valtteri Bottas has taken six.

Hamilton’s last new ICE was put into his W12 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, the Brit racing from 20th to fifth in sprint qualifying and 10th to first in the grand prix.

Marko hopes that has taken a lot of pace out of it.

“Hamilton’s engine will no longer have as much power as last week in Brazil,” said the Austrian.

“Also, I don’t think they used their ‘special’ rear wing here, because the difference in top speed was smaller.

“We are not giving up.”

But with nine wins on the board, many are surprised that Verstappen only leads by eight points.

Marko says that’s because he lost points at the British and Hungarian GPs, both the result of crashes with Mercedes drivers, and also in Baku when he suffered a tyre failure while leading.

“This year it is so often different than predicted,” he added.

“On paper, the circuit in Brazil was our best chance, but earlier in Austin that was said about Mercedes again and we won.

“Max lost a lot of points in Baku, Silverstone and Budapest.


“Normally, the championship would have already been ours.

“We must fight back now. If you can’t handle pressure, you’re in the wrong business.”