F1: Can Lewis Hamilton do it again?
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Red Bull claim many of Mercedes’ leading figures want to switch teams after they captured the Silver Arrows’ head of mechanical engineering Ben Hodgkinson. Helmut Marko has accused the defending Constructors’ Champions of doing everything in their power to stop Hodgkinson from making the move as soon as possible.
Hodkinson is set to become Red Bull’s new technical director and he will hope to help Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to the world title.
Hamilton is looking to surpass the record he shares with Michael Schumacher this year.
But losing such a key component of the team will only benefit his younger rival.
Red Bull chief Helmut Marko feels the tide is shifting and Hodkinson’s arrival could the start of the Mercedes departure floodgates opening.
“The decisive thing is, we didn’t have to persuade him at all,” Marko told F1 Insider. “Ben applied independently through our advertisement.
“Mercedes is now trying everything they legally can do to delay the start of his work. But it won’t take as long as Mercedes would like.
“He is not the only one who wants to join us. There are also other high-profile figures, whose names I cannot yet give.
“I know only one thing: if Niki Lauda were still alive, we would not have been able to do this.”
Meanwhile, former F1 star Mark Webber reckons Mercedes have many weaknesses this year and Hamilton has had to paper over the cracks in the opening two races.
“I think Hamilton has propped Mercedes up a bit in the first two races,” Webber told Marca. “The car is not easy, far from it, but Lewis has got the results and even leads the World Championship.
“But he has a tough rival in Verstappen. We are all fans of Max’s style, watching his racing is incredibly spectacular, which is exactly what we ask of an F1 driver.
“They are two gladiators and that’s what this sport needs, an intense rivalry… and there will come a peak moment when there will be fireworks between the two, I’m convinced.
“At the moment they get on well and have a lot of respect for each other, but during the season? Hamilton is a 12-round boxer, he will always be on the prowl and against him you have to be ready to take the fight.”
And Webber reckons his old team Red Bull are ready to take the fight to Mercedes.
“They have never been so ready,” he added. “They know they have a great chance, they know they have to be very precise and always be ready for the fight because Lewis doesn’t give you a second chance.
“They have the right man for it in the cockpit. In the last race we saw what they are capable of doing in the pit stops… Mercedes are not being the best at this, although they are a great team, of course.
“But every part of the Red Bull team is psyched to fight and they know how to fight to win, there are other teams that are not used to it, but Red Bull is.
“They expect to win, although they have the utmost respect for Lewis and Mercedes.”
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