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HomeSportVerstappen, Red Bull have plenty to worry about in remaining F1 races

Verstappen, Red Bull have plenty to worry about in remaining F1 races

The Dutchman and his team have seen their strong lead pegged back and come under serious threat in the concluding stages of the season.

Lewis Hamilton came into the Brazilian Grand Prix 19 points behind Max Verstappen after the latter’s magnificent drive to victory in Mexico, the Brit finishing a mammoth 16 seconds off his title challenger. That’s how superior and uncatchable Red Bull was.

Mercedes therefore needed to find better gains in Sao Paulo, and they certainly did, with seven-time world champion Hamilton winning in commanding fashion. This was in spite of earning a five-place grid penalty for using his fifth internal combustion engine of the season and also getting kicked out of qualifying for contravening technical regulations.

Red Bull were simply no match for Mercedes in Brazil, something Verstappen and team principal Christian Horner admitted.

It’s always hard to take a loss when you’ve led for as many laps but that was against expectation,” Horner said after the race.

I thought Max did a hell of a job to keep Lewis behind for as long as he managed. We saw the pace of that car was just unstoppable. For us, damage limitation.

Verstappen on his part said: “Of course I tried everything I could, but clearly, we’re just lacking a little bit of pace, a little bit too much.

“Especially on a track like this, where the tyre wear is very high, you have to use the tyres a bit more to keep them behind, and in the end, it didn’t work out.

The showings of Mercedes in Brazil are a sign that the race for the driver’s championship is far from over. Verstappen’s lead is now down to 14 points while Mercedes have extended their lead over Red Bull in the constructors’ standings to 11.

Red Bull have been the dominant car lately, winning four of the last seven races before Brazil, including back-to-back in the United States and Mexico. Mercedes were last victorious in Russia, where McLaren’s Lando Norris almost had the race in the bag but failed to switch to intermediate tyres at the right time as the rain came pouring down in the closing stages in Sochi. Before that, it was at Silverstone Hamilton previously won.

So, there was an urgent need to respond if Mercedes were to avoid having to throw in the towel so early. Hamilton’s fresh engine was clearly the answer, and Red Bull will be scratching their heads at the gains their rivals have made.

It’s three races left to end the season, all in the Middle East. They head to Qatar this Friday before moving to Saudi Arabia and finally the United Arab Emirates. These are tracks where speed matters a lot, and if Hamilton’s gains in Brazil are anything to go by, we can expect him to go even faster in the next races, and this could lead to more heartache for Red Bull.

Had Verstappen held his nerve for the remaining 12 laps and won at Interlagos, finishing second in the remaining three races would have been enough for him to seal a first championship. Hamilton’s win however throws everything wide open.

Mercedes might just have switched gears at the appropriate time. How Red Bull will react will be of serious interest to enthusiasts of the sport.

Maybe it was just a one-off for Mercedes in Brazil and Qatar – which is on the F1 calendar for the first time ever – will favor Red Bull. The energy drink-backed team after all still made good pace in Sao Paulo, as evidenced by Verstappen breezing past the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for the lead at the start and keeping Hamilton at bay for 40 laps before failing to hold on.

The battle isn’t over yet. It’s going down to the wire. Hamilton is looking good to win a record eighth world championship at this point, but 24-year-old Verstappen has given the reigning world champion a serious run for his money, probably even more than in 2016 when the 36-year-old was beaten by then-teammate Nico Roseberg.

So, stay on the edge of your seat as we continue to experience the closest and most intense race for the championship in decades.

Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

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Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

Olafare Michael Oluwabukolahttps://t.me/notchplug
A Nationa Diploma holder in Computer Science at LENS POLYTECHNIC Offa, a full-time blogger, beatmaker, modern graphics designer, talent manager, and a vocalist
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