Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has claimed ‘nothing ever happens’ to Lewis Hamilton as he compared the Mercedes star’s luck to that of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Marko’s driver Max Verstappen is in the midst of a tense battle for the Drivers’ Championship with Hamilton and currently leads his rival by eight points heading into the final two races.
The Red Bull chief refused to get drawn into the permutations that could see his driver Verstappen crowned the F1 Drivers’ champion at the Saudi Arabia GP this weekend, but claimed the Dutchman is unfortunate not to have the title wrapped up already.
Marko said Verstappen has ‘lost 50 points through no fault of his own,’ referring to his tyre blow in Baku and his dramatic Silverstone crash with Hamilton earlier on in the season.
He also pondered Hamilton’s good fortune as he highlighted Bottas’ struggles throughout the season, with the Finn having to retire last race and generally suffering more engine concerns.
When asked about his thoughts on Verstappen winning the championship this weekend, he played down the chances of that happening, telling Austrian newspaper OE24: “Please leave me alone with the calculations!”
“Or should I come back with the 50 points that Max lost through no fault of his own?”
Red Bull’s Christian Horner takes fresh swipe at FIA
“Only [Valtteri] Bottas always breaks [down] at Mercedes,” he added. “Nothing ever happens to Hamilton.”
Verstappen is the only driver that mathematically has the chance to win the title on Sunday, though he needs Hamilton to have a disastrous weekend at the Jeddah Street Circuit.
The Red Bull driver can become World Champion in Saudi Arabia if he can win the race with the fastest lap and Hamilton finishes P6 or lower.
And despite Hamilton closing the gap to just eight points with two races remaining thanks to back-to-back victories, Marko is confident Red Bull will bounce back in Saudi Arabia.
“In Brazil, we had no chance. In Qatar, we made a mistake with the setup. But we’re still ahead,” Marko continued.
“Now we have to fight back in Jeddah. Max still has every chance.”
Hamilton can help ‘undo sportswashing’ as Brit hailed before Saudi GP
Max Verstappen rejects Lewis Hamilton crash theory ahead of Saudi GP
Lewis Hamilton not comfortable racing in Saudi Arabia
“Believe me, our people are working at full speed. Max trains in the simulator; he even has one at home. It almost doesn’t matter to him that he’s never driven there.”
Speaking on Thursday during the FIA press conference, Verstappen said he had no intentions of approaching the penultimate race of the season any differently from any other race.
And with Mercedes sudden resurgence, the 24-year-old has no intentions of going down quietly.
“We’re in the lead of the championship and we’re going to fight until the end,” he told Sky Sports F1.
“Everyone is very motivated for that.”
Mercedes have dominated Brazil and Qatar, as Hamilton closed the gap on the championship leader, but when asked if he expects the British-based German team to dominate again, the Dutchman responded: “We don’t really know. It’s a new track. We don’t know the grip levels. A lot of things can happen on a street circuit anyway.
“We just have to try to put a good car on the track, and then of course you need to get comfortable driving as well because the track layout is very quick and not a lot of room for error.
“It’s a special track. We don’t really know what our competitors are going to do. We always try to do the best we can.”
The battle between Red Bull and Mercedes continues this weekend at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with qualifying taking place at 5pm GMT on Saturday and the race getting underway the following day at 5.30pm.