Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto disagrees with Red Bull’s Helmut Marko on Lewis Hamilton’s car
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Ferrari’s team boss has waded into the fallout from the Brazilian Grand Prix by disputing Red Bull’s claims that Sir Lewis Hamilton’s engine put him at an advantage. Despite having to serve a five-grid penalty for taking a fifth internal combustion engine change of the season and disqualification from qualifying, Hamilton notched one of his most famous race wins in Sao Paulo to keep his F1 title hopes alive.
Max Verstappen was second, a result which cut his championship lead over the British icon to just 14 points with three races remaining in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi.
Despite the dramatic spectacle, ill-feeling from Interlagos continues to linger with Mercedes unhappy that the Dutchman escaped penalty for running Hamilton wide, and subsequently off the track, before the the Mercedes man did manage to pass him.
Red Bull bosses meanwhile, have referenced the superior straight-line speed of the Silver Arrows, with technical advisor Helmut Marko implying that Hamilton’s win was down to his ‘rocket’ engine, as opposed to his driving skills.
“Mercedes have done a masterpiece to conjure up such a rocket at this crucial stage. Hamilton won it on the straights,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
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However, Ferrari engineer and team principal Mattia Binotto has opposed Marko’s claims, saying there was far more to Hamilton’s win than the simple insertion of a new engine, and thinks the pendulum could swing again in the Middle East,
“I honestly don’t think it’s a power unit issue,” he told Sky Italia.
“From one track to another, a car can adapt better than the other. In Mexico, Red Bull had an advantage. In Sao Paulo it was the Mercedes.
“You can also see it from [Valtteri] Bottas’ performance, who did not change the engine. The difference between the two of them [Bottas and Hamilton] was small.
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“What will matter more is how the cars adapt to the next Grand Prix’s, of which two are unknown to everyone.”
Binotto, 52, is referring to the races in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the set-up of both tracks thought to be in favour of Mercedes.
Toto Wolff’s Mercedes currently have the lead in the Constructors’ race, albeit a slender 11-point one over their Red Bull rivals, with Ferrari in third, now 31.5 points clear of McLaren.
The Italian admits his team now have an eventual place in the top three within their grasp, but is taking nothing for granted given the unpredictable nature of F1.
“Given that there are three races left until the end of the season, that’s a significant advantage,” he said.
“But I knock on wood, because reliability will remain a key factor in the remaining races.”
The Qatar Grand Prix takes place this Sunday, the third F1 race in as many weeks, at the Losail International Circuit.
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