Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children
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Christian Horner insists Red Bull will “keep an eye” on their main title rivals, Mercedes, for the rest of the season after their “mind-boggling” speed in Brazil on Saturday. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who started the sprint race from the back of the grid after being disqualified for a technical infringement regarding his rear wing, managed to pass 15 cars in 24 laps to finish P5 at Interlagos after a superb drive.
Yet, Red Bull had already entered the weekend with suspicions surrounding Mercedes rear-wing helping aid their straight-line speed, with technical chief Adrian Newey lodging a complaint with the FIA earlier in the weekend.
Curiosity got the better of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen too, as he was spotted touching the rear of Hamilton’s car, resulting in a €50,000 fine. The Dutchman had just set the fastest time when it was under parc ferme conditions after Friday’s qualifying session.
But in the sprint race, with Verstappen promoted to the front of the grid thanks to Hamilton’s disqualification, the championship leader seemed to get bogged down early on and was overtaken by both Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jnr in the Ferrari on the opening lap.
Recovering to finish second after complaining of a gear shift issue, Verstappen will line up behind the Mercedes of Bottas for Sunday’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix, with Hamilton all the way down in tenth due to a five-place engine change penalty.
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Verstappen had already stated earlier in the weekend he expected Hamilton to be quick after picking up his fifth new engine of the season.
But boss Horner was left baffled by Hamilton’s pace during the sprint, although he admitted it was “no great surprise”.
“We saw it yesterday, that it’s just phenomenal, especially with the size of rear wing that they have on the car,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “It’s something that we’ve got to try and focus on with our own performance.
“I think obviously, it’s something that is enabling the car to do that kind of speed.
“Something must happen, because physics wouldn’t allow the kind of horsepower delta that you would need to achieve that would be pretty significant.
“We’re obviously trying to understand what it is and go from there.”
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Newey, who has recently returned to the paddock after a nasty accident earlier in the year, also had queries surrounding Mercedes.
But Horner admitted they could only ask questions at this point.
He added: “It’s something that we’ve seen for a little while, but it’s down to the FIA to police.
“The rules are quite concise, they’re ever more constrictive. So it’s something that we’re going to keep an eye on because, particularly with Lewis today, you saw that was just a different league.
“I think he was 27 km/h faster than Lando [Norris] when he passed him, which is another formula.
“But you know, it’s a great drive from him. I think I said before the race that this track you can really overtake at.”
Verstappen holds a 21-point lead over Hamilton in the driver standings with just four races remaining.
The Sao Paulo Grand Prix gets underway at 5pm BST on Sunday evening.
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