Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes the team and Max Verstappen have nothing to fear from Lewis Hamilton’s “rocket engine” ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
After using an older engine in Qatar, Hamilton is to revert back to the new system that was fitted ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix and propelled him to a remarkable win after starting the sprint race last and the main event from 10th.
It is understood the engine will offer Hamilton and Mercedes a considerable boost for the Jeddah track that is reputed to be the fastest street circuit in the world.
Marko, however, is convinced the advantage Mercedes had at Interlagos has been cut following the FIA’s introduction of new rear-wing tests first employed in Qatar.
“We saw that Hamilton’s speed advantage on the straights in Qatar was no longer that great and was more or less within the normal range,” Marko told F1 Insider.
“This is due to the fact that after more stringent tests by the FIA, Mercedes no longer used its extremely flexible rear wing.”
Although acknowledging the fact “Mercedes will be using the rocket engine from Brazil in Saudi Arabia again”, Marko is unconcerned.
He said: “Because you can no longer lower the spoiler, it will no longer bring an advantage of 0.4 seconds ”
Red Bull and Verstappen offered encouragement by Saudi track designer
Renowned circuit designer Hermann Tilke, who devised the layout of the 6.175km, 27-turn track has also offered up hope to Red Bull.
“A powerful engine helps, but it’s not just straight ahead,” assessed Tilke. “There are a few fast corners that, with the right set-up, could give the Red Bull an advantage.
“It is also a street circuit, so often separate laws apply. ”
Verstappen should have two street wins to his name this season, which lends Marko to believe this latest course will play into his hands.
“We trust Max’s strength on street circuits,” insisted Marko. “He won in Monaco and in Baku, he clearly dominated before his tyre blowout through no fault of his own.
“I think the driver can make all the difference again in Saudi Arabia. “