Monday, December 6

Mercedes hopes for the “racing god” against Verstappen

In the world championship fight against an unearthly driving Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton probably only helps from above. After the masterful Mexico statement by the Red Bull Formula 1 leader, the Mercedes superstar is panting more and more.

Four races before the season finale, Verstappen has already left his only opponent behind a whopping 19 points. “We have to start to perform better and maybe also hope for the god of racing,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

“World Cup fight already decided?” Asked the Swiss “Blick” after Verstappen’s ninth win of the season on Sunday. And the answer comes to mind: yes! Why? Because Verstappen is racing away from the competition in a world championship. With a crazy braking maneuver against Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton in the first corner of the opening lap, the Dutchman took the lead and drove the race safely home.

“We’re giving everything, but right now it’s not enough to keep up with them,” admitted Hamilton. The already powerful Honda engine from Red Bull works even better in the mountain air than the drives of the competition. Hamilton can struggle as much as he wants. Brazil should therefore give Red Bull another advantage next week.

Hamilton must hope to stay within reach of Verstappen before the desert triple Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Otherwise his dream of the historic eighth world title this year will not come true and the Dutchman will crown himself for the first time. If they “take their form into the next races,” said Hamilton almost admonishingly, “we will have problems.”

Mercedes doesn’t give up

Of course, the Silver Arrows are not giving up. But Hamilton is running out of time. If his team-mate Bottas does not defend the outside against Verstappen resolutely enough, as in the first corner, he will run out of World Cup arguments. “I’m a pretty realistic person, but I love motorsport because anything can happen,” assured Mercedes team boss Wolff. “None of us will ever leave the course with the mentality that it is slipping away from us.” Wolff assured: “We will keep fighting.”

Strictly speaking, Hamilton is forced to win in Brazil. Otherwise he doesn’t seem to be able to catch Verstappen, who drives at the highest level with his reliable Red Bull. “Of course I have the feeling that I have to win every race because we need these extra points,” admitted Hamilton.

After all, Bottas snatched the extra point for the fastest race lap from World Championship leader Verstappen. “Every point counts. We have seen world championships that were lost because of half a point or a full point,” recalled Wolff, “so you have to fight for every single one and stick with it.”

Verstappen, on the other hand, just doesn’t want to let up on the crucial meters of the season. “I’m not thinking about the World Cup, we have to keep fighting to the end,” emphasized the 24-year-old, who won the last Brazil race in 2019.

He doesn’t even want to think about the supposed power of the favorable moment. “I don’t believe in the momentum. We have to try to get the details right in every race,” he said calmly. “Things can go wrong very quickly or go right. So it will be very tight and exciting until the end.”

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