Sir Jackie Stewart feels that Mercedes’ experience gives Lewis Hamilton the upper hand over Max Verstappen in the fight for the 2021 World Championship, though he thinks reliability will ultimately decide who comes out on top.
With five races to go, it’s advantage Verstappen. The Red Bull driver was faultless en route to victory at the United States Grand Prix, a result that saw him extend his lead over Hamilton in the standings to 12 points.
Stewart, who credited both drivers for driving “magnificently well” in 2021, reckons whoever has the fewest mechanical failures will take the title.
“I think it could go to either of the drivers. I think in the end, because of the experience that the Mercedes team have, as well as the driver, they probably have the best chance to do it,” Stewart told Motorsport-Magazin.
“But I think both of them are perhaps overdriving a little bit the present time, as we’ve seen, at least on two occasions. I hope that’s been recognised in the most positive way.
“I wouldn’t like to see anything nasty happening, although of course, motor racing today is so safe. The accident that happened at Silverstone, in my day, he [Verstappen] would have died.
“Sometimes liberties are being taken that shouldn’t be taken, so we’ve got to be careful with this [and] don’t get too carried away by needing to win. To finish first, first you must finish.
“It’s going to end up with who is going to have the least mechanical failures, because both of them are both driving magnificently well.”
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko recently stated that while Verstappen currently sits atop the standings, the team will only feel confident about claiming the title should they win the next two races in Mexico and Brazil.