Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes advantage ‘not going to matter’ amid Sergio Perez Qatar insight

F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar

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Lewis Hamilton’s Red Bull rival Sergio Perez claims the overriding factor which allowed the Brit to win in Sao Paulo will not come into play in Qatar. The seven-time world champion wowed the crowd by staging a dramatic comeback, pipping Max Verstappen in the closing stages after some gripping wheel-to-wheel action. 

Mercedes had to battle through plenty of setbacks in Brazil, but they miraculously managed to come out of it in better shape than Red Bull.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ podium finishes extend the Silver Arrows’ lead in the Constructors’ standings, with Verstappen and Perez taking second and fourth. 

That is despite a five-place grid penalty for Hamilton, a disqualification from Friday’s qualifying session and a £4,200 fine for loosening his seat belt after the race. 

After starting 10th on the grid, the Mercedes man used his blatant advantage when it came to straight-line speed to fight his way through the pack and pass both Perez and Verstappen. 

“We’ll see what we are able to do going into Qatar,” said Perez.

“It’s going to be a different track, probably straightline speed is not really going to matter over there so hopefully we can be a lot more competitive.

“It’s a very high downforce track – very fast. And hopefully the main straight is not too long.”

Indeed, during the twisting, turning middle sector of the race in Sao Paulo, Hamilton found it hard to stay within touching distance of Verstappen’s Red Bull. 

A track centred less on straight-line speed is expected to favour the Red Bull machines, meaning Hamilton and Bottas may not have it all their own way in Qatar. 

More punishment could be headed Verstappen’s way before the race though, after Mercedes launched a fresh appeal into an incident which occurred on lap 48. 

With Hamilton looking dangerous, the Dutchman appeared to run both his title rival and himself off the track, although the Stewards decided that no punishment was necessary at the time. 

That was until new on-board footage emerged which shed light on the affair, and it remains to be seen whether action will be taken, and what action that might be. 

After the battle concluded in Brazil, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko admitted: “There were not two rockets, but one. Only the Hamilton [car] has such an unbelievable surplus on the straights.

“Despite the lead, I see us at a disadvantage if Hamilton maintains this engine advantage.

“We haven’t seen an engine like that from Mercedes in recent years, as far as I can remember. And it’s only Hamilton’s power unit. All the others [Mercedes powered cars] are within the normal range.

“Mercedes have done a masterpiece to conjure up such a rocket at this crucial stage. Hamilton won it on the straights.”

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