Two races, eight points, the world’s fastest street circuit up next. We’re fast approaching ‘winner takes all’ territory in the Formula 1 season.
But as they head to the Middle East for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, tensions are high in a down-to-the-wire title race.
In what Formula 1 claims will be a high-speed chase at Jeddah, many fans have Hamilton down as the favourite after a new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Mercedes debuted at the Brazilian GP.
The Silver Arrows have already confirmed that Hamilton’s car will use the same engine for the Saudi Arabian GP which helped him make up 25 places over the sprint qualifying and the race.
Red Bull, though, are far from perturbed despite what went down at Sao Paulo two weeks ago.
Helmut Marko, a motorsport advisor for Red Bull, is confident that Hamilton will not enjoy the same turn of luck in Saudi Arabia.
Mercedes have had issues with degradation on their engines, a fact Marko is betting on when it comes to the pivotal race at Jeddah.
“We know from Hamilton that his Brazil engine has now run about 400 kilometres,” he told De Telegraaf. “And the degradation of that engine is high. That rocket will not have as much power in the coming races as it did at Interlagos, we think.”
In a separate interview with F1-insider.com, Marko elaborated on another aspect of Mercedes’ woes.
“We saw in Qatar that Hamilton’s speed advantage on the straights in Qatar was no longer that great and was more or less within the normal range.
“This is due to the fact that after more stringent tests by the FIA, Mercedes no longer used its extremely flexible rear wing.”
The penultimate race of the F1 season promises to be a blockbuster one.
Despite a couple of clashes on the track, the title-chasing pair have been relentless in their pursuit of the Driver’s Championship; Verstappen chasing his first, with Hamilton chasing a record eighth title.
F1 claims the Jeddah Corniche Circuit will be the world’s fastest street circuit. The top speed is expected to be a blistering 322 km/h with an average speed of 252.8km/h. How’s that for a box-office race?