Lewis Hamilton to harness power of new engine in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

  • Mercedes believe engine change will be advantage in Jeddah
  • Max Verstappen leads by eight points with two races left

Lewis Hamilton will go into the crucial penultimate round of the Formula One season with a vital advantage in his Mercedes car. After Hamilton’s win in Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix the Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, confirmed he would be reverting to his newest engine at the next meeting in Saudi Arabia, which may make the difference in the world champion’s title fight with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The championship is finely poised. Hamilton’s victory in Qatar closed the gap to Verstappen to just eight points with 52 available from the two remaining meetings. Mercedes lead Red Bull by just five points in the constructors’ contest.

The lead has changed hands between Hamilton and Verstappen five times already but the latter’s slim advantage means he could secure the title in Saudi Arabia on 5 December. Thanks to his nine race wins to Hamilton’s seven so far this season, he will be champion if he wins and takes fastest lap and Hamilton finishes sixth or lower, or if he wins and Hamilton finishes lower than seventh.

Yet barring a failure to finish from the world champion, the most likely outcome is that the two drivers will face off for the title at the season finale in Abu Dhabi on 12 December. Mercedes are confident they have the tools to ensure the championship goes to the wire.

Hamilton won on Sunday at the Losail circuit with a dominant run from pole to flag, with pace Verstappen was unable to match. However Mercedes have more to unleash at the next round. They will be using the new engine Hamilton took for the Brazilian GP and with which he scythed through the field from 10th to victory.

They did not use the engine in Qatar because of the preponderance of high-downforce corners at the Doha circuit. The high-speed straights of the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia, however, will reward raw power, and with their engine used only once and having at most two more races to go, Mercedes will be able to run it at its maximum output.

“It is long straights and we will get our spicy equipment out: the engine for Saudi Arabia,” said Wolff.

Andrew Shovlin, the Mercedes trackside engineering director, was optimistic Hamilton would be able to continue his run of form with two wins from the last two races. “If we look at the track in Saudi, I think it should suit us,” he said. “For Lewis, we have got the more powerful engine to go in the car, so that’s going to give him a useful engine.”

Verstappen last took a new engine at the Russian GP, six races ago. Mercedes will also almost certainly employ their low-downforce wing which Red Bull have accused of bending under load on straights, reducing downforce illegally, and will likely protest against its use.

Mercedes insist their wing complies with FIA regulations, while Hamilton believes his team have managed to bring the best out of their car at exactly the right moment.

“As the year’s gone on, we’ve understood the car more,” he said. “We’ve definitely been able to squeeze more performance out of the package without bringing any upgrades. We’ve not had an upgrade since Silverstone, so it’s quite phenomenal to see the increments that we’ve been improving.”


Giles Richards

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Lewis Hamilton closes on Schumacher's record after winning Belgian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton led every lap from pole position to win the Belgian Grand Prix, with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas second

Giles Richards at Spa-Francorchamps

30, Aug, 2020 @3:00 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton holds off Verstappen to win F1 Portuguese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won the Portuguese GP ahead of Max Verstappen and the pole-sitter, Valtteri Bottas, the Briton’s 97th race win

Giles Richards at Portimão

02, May, 2021 @4:02 PM

Article image
Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton to win F1’s Malaysian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on lap four and came home to win his second grand prix while Sebastian Vettel finished fourth after starting on the back of the grid

Giles Richards

01, Oct, 2017 @3:15 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton wins Spanish Grand Prix to stretch lead in F1 title race
Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, to extend his lead in the F1 drivers’ title race

Giles Richards at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

13, May, 2018 @3:22 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton wins Singapore Grand Prix to extend lead in F1 title race
Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix with a strong run from pole to increase his world championship lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to 40 points

Giles Richards

16, Sep, 2018 @2:29 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton rallies to edge out Max Verstappen to win Spanish Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix with a magnificent piece of controlled, strategic driving and management after he had lost the lead on the opening lap

Giles Richards at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya

09, May, 2021 @3:06 PM

Article image
Ocon claims Hungarian Grand Prix as Hamilton gets promoted to second
Esteban Ocon picked up the first F1 win for both himself and his Alpine team as Lewis Hamilton was promoted to second in an eventful Hungarian Grand Prix

Giles Richards at the Hungaroring

01, Aug, 2021 @9:51 PM

Article image
Max Verstappen wins Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix after Hamilton blunder
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the F1 Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix at Imola after a mistake from Lewis Hamilton, who fought back to finish second

Giles Richards at Imola

18, Apr, 2021 @3:27 PM

Article image
F1 Australian Grand Prix: five things we learned in Melbourne | Giles Richards
Passing at Albert Park is always difficult but Lewis Hamilton reiterated new rules make overtaking harder; Red Bull lack balance, and Williams are still top stoppers

Giles Richards in Melbourne

27, Mar, 2017 @10:59 AM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton eyes fourth title after showing composure and maturity | Giles Richards
Lewis Hamilton has proved he knows how to play the game and stay out of trouble as he progresses to the threshold of another drivers’ crown with his triumph in Austin

Giles Richards

23, Oct, 2017 @8:56 PM