F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Red Bull chief and former Formula One star Helmut Marko has laid huge expectations on the shoulders of Max Verstappen ahead of this week’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Verstappen edged closer to a maiden world championship last week, as he secured his ninth victory of the season in Mexico to move 19 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second with four races to go.
The Dutchman’s win in North America secured back-to-back victories after he also came out on top in the United States Grand Prix two weeks prior, with rival Hamilton coming in just behind on both occasions.
Verstappen now knows that another win in Sao Paulo would move him ever closer to the illustrious prize, and his chief team advisor Marko has tipped him to all but secure the title on Sunday.
Marko commented: “I have always said that the season is finished when Max achieves 10 victories. As it looks now, the chances are great in Sao Paulo.”
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Verstappen’s Red Bull car has dominated Hamilton and his Mercedes in recent weeks, as the Dutchman now possesses nearly double the amount of wins (nine) as Hamilton (five) this campaign.
And Marko is confident of yet another Red Bull victory this Sunday, as he believes the high Brazilian altitude will suit his outfit’s car better than their title rival Mercedes.
“This is partly because our turbo here works better than the Mercedes engine,” explained the veteran.
In spite of Red Bull coming out on top in the driver standings, it is in fact Mercedes who have the edge on the constructor leaderboard thanks to the consistency of both Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas.
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With the chances of a fifth straight individual title slipping away from the Englishman, he revealed that his main concern heading to Brazil is delivering points for his team to keep them ahead as leading constructor.
Ahead of the race in Sao Paulo Hamilton said: “Of course I want to win. I want to win the drivers’ championship, of course.
“But the team one is so important, for the funding you get for the development, for all the people who are working back at the factory.”
He continued: “It’s not just about one person, it’s about all of those. When it comes to teammates working together, that’s the one we really need to work together for to come out on top.”
Hamilton’s dominance in the drivers’ standings has been constantly mirrored by his team in the constructor leaderboard, and even when the Englishman last missed out on a title back in 2016, both championships remained with Mercedes, as it was his former teammate Nico Rosberg who came out on top.
Therefore he believes it is important to keep his team’s remarkable run going with at least one of the titles up for grabs: “Winning at least one of the championships is key.
“If we can’t get the drivers’ championship, I at least want to deliver for the team and get the constructors’, so that’s what I’m working towards. But it’s just hard.
“We’ve still got four races and I’m still hopeful we can keep them on their toes.”
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