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F1 2021 | Mercedes and Red Bull clash as championship battle heats up

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says the team can “write off” this year’s world title if Mercedes continues to show the dominant form seen in Brazil.

Lewis Hamilton won the Sao Paulo Grand Prix despite being disqualified from qualifying and sent to the back of the grid for Saturday’s sprint race. He also incurred a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s grand prix after an engine change.

Despite all those setbacks, Hamilton recorded his 6th win of the season, narrowing Max Verstappen’s championship lead to 14 points with three races to go. If Hamilton were to win all three, he would be champion for the eighth time, regardless of where Verstappen finishes.

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Of concern for Red Bull was the pace that Hamilton had in coming through the field, with team boss Christian Horner conceding Verstappen had no chance to defend against the Mercedes.

According to Marko, if that form keeps up, Hamilton and Mercedes will take out another title.

“If Hamilton is also so superior this weekend in Qatar, and then in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, we can write off the title,” he said.

“I have never seen such a rocket engine from Mercedes.

“We couldn’t hold Hamilton on the straights, even though he was driving with a rear wing set at a similar steep angle to Monaco.”

Horner pointed out that when Hamilton passed Verstappen in Brazil he was traveling 30km/h faster than the Red Bull, calling the Mercedes a “potent weapon.”

That’s a view backed up by Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez.

“Their straightline speed is on another planet,” he said.

“I looked in my mirror at the corner exit and I felt pretty safe. But then I looked back into it again and he [Hamilton] was right next to me. It was really impressive.”

Red Bull are suspicious of the legality of the Mercedes package, but both Horner and Marko emphasised that they would not be protesting at this stage.

“It’s down to the FIA to police the sport and to govern it. We trust in them and their tests and their investigation,” Horner said.

Mercedes, meanwhile, will front stewards in Qatar, seeking to have Verstappen penalised for the incident in Sao Paulo that saw both the Dutchman and Hamilton leave the track at Turn 4.

Hamilton attempted to pass Verstappen around the outside, only for the Red Bull driver to force him off the track.

“Once you have an intense championship battle, they will absolutely try and do anything and everything possible from their perspective to win, and understandably so,” said F1’s race director, Australian Michael Masi.

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