Max Verstappen leads Lewis Hamilton in the race for the title
Mercedes have agreed with Max Verstappen that they expect to run the Dutchman closer at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was largely unable to match the Red Bull driver’s speed in Mexico City as Verstappen took victory and extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 19 points.
The Interlagos circuit has also historically suited the 24-year-old, who took the win at the last Brazilian Grand Prix in 2019.
Yet Verstappen struck a more cautious tone than those predicting further success for Red Bull after his win in Mexico, saying: “I expect Brazil not to be like it was here.”
His inference that Mercedes, and Hamilton, would be able to better challenge Verstappen was echoed by Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ trackside engineering director.
“There are reasons why we would expect it to be closer,” Shovlin said of Verstappen’s prediction.
“The thing is, what we like to spend our time doing is worrying about things that might go wrong and catch us out.
“It may well be [it is closer] but it is so unpredictable at the moment. You look at qualifying, and a single lap can be more variable than the race pace.
“But we don’t need to go back far and we clearly had the race-dominant car through the weekend in Turkey, I think in Sochi as well.
“Within the remaining four circuits there will be those that suit us as well so we will keep trying everything we can to win the championships.”
After Brazil, the 2021 Formula 1 calendar concludes in the Middle East, with visits to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton has twice won at Interlagos but finished seventh in 2019 after receiving a time penalty for an incident with Alex Albon.
The British driver is hoping to secure an eighth world title, while Verstappen has never previously won a Drivers’ Championship.
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