Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko insists Max Verstappen has no need to fear Lewis Hamilton’s “rocket engine” ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton used a new engine system and showed prolific speed in Brazil, where he produced a stunning performance to take victory from tenth on the grid.
The Briton switched back to an older engine in Qatar without consequence, as Hamilton won again to narrow Verstappen’s lead in the championship to just eight points.
Mercedes will reinstall the new system ahead of next week’s inaugural race in Saudi Arabia, but Marko is adamant the FIA’s introduction of new rear-wing tests will limit Hamilton’s advantage.
“We saw that Hamilton’s speed advantage on the straights in Qatar was no longer that great and was more or less within the normal range,” Marko told F1 Insider. “This is due to the fact that after more stringent tests by the FIA, Mercedes no longer used its extremely flexible rear wing.”
“Because you can no longer lower the spoiler, it will no longer bring an advantage of 0.4 seconds “
Circuit designer Hermann Tilke, who designed the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, also believes Red Bull stand a chance of matching Mercedes’ speed.
“A powerful engine helps, but it’s not just straight ahead,” said Tilke. “There are a few fast corners that, with the right set-up, could give the Red Bull an advantage.
“It is also a street circuit, so often separate laws apply. “
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