George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Lewis Hamilton claims he is in the dark with Mercedes and has “absolutely no idea” if he will have to take an engine penalty between now and the end of the season in his fight to become an eight-time world champion.
Red Bull were confident after the Russian Grand Prix that the championship leader would be forced to take another engine, his fourth of the season, after already using his three permitted power units.
But with just seven Grand Prix remaining, Mercedes will have to weigh their options up carefully as the seven-time world champion would be relegated to the back of the grid.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Mercedes are just biding their time but admitted they were “not privy to that kind of information.”
He continued: “But you’d assume that [with] the amount of Mercedes engines that are being changed in their sister cars and customer teams, you’d expect potentially for there to be a penalty, but obviously we can’t rely on it.”
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However, when pushed on the subject at the Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton was adamant he had no idea what Mercedes were planning.
“I have absolutely no idea,” said Hamilton.
“Of course, I have lost one engine, Valtteri [Bottas] has had several and there have been others that Mercedes have seen up and down the paddock.
“Right now, I am trying to treat my engines, the ones we put in, with absolute care when I am driving in terms of how much I am gassing it, how much… just revving the thing, revving the nuts off it, trying to minimise the laps that I do.”
Hamilton’s main title rival Max Verstappen was hit with a hefty grid penalty at Sochi as Red Bull decided to take a new engine at the Russian circuit.
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The 23-year-old put in a strong performance and made his way from P20 to P2 after a dramatic conclusion to the race on Sunday.
It means the Dutch driver now has the advantage of being able to push his allocation of engines more than Hamilton.
Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko even added that he had received information that a change for Hamilton was imminent.
“I hope that our information is correct. According to that, Lewis will have to change again. Going from last place on the grid to the podium doesn’t happen that quickly,” said Marko.
“The upcoming tracks are to our advantage, especially because of the altitude in Brazil or Mexico. We need to win again now, but feel strong enough and attack again.”
Hamilton took control of the championship, albeit by just two points, after a spectacular grandstand finish in Sochi.
But despite potential engine penalties looming, Hamilton remained very much in the present, rather than dwelling on what could happen in the future.
“I can’t control the future,” he added. “All I can do is try to maximise, whenever I have the opportunity.
“Obviously now, there have been two, the sprint race [in the Italian GP], with the [slow] start and then qualifying [in Russia].”
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