Red Bull expecting Mercedes penalty as Verstappen and Hamilton battle for title

Red Bull are expecting Mercedes to receive a penalty similar to Max Verstappen.

Christian Horner’s team are confident they will have an extra advantage in the final third of the season as they believe their main title rival Lewis Hamilton will take a new power unit.

Red Bull did not expect much from the Russian Grand Prix after they opted to give their Dutch driver a new engine, which meant he would start from the back of the grid.

However they got more than they bargained for as a rain shower in the closing stages of the Sochi race saw Verstappen pit for fresh tyres and go on to finish second.

Hamilton, who secured his 100th race win in Russia, has already used his three permitted engines for the season but could opt to take a grid penalty in order to make a fourth switch.

With seven races left, however, Mercedes must weigh up their options with Red Bull boss Christian Horner confident Hamilton will have to make a change.

“We’re not privy to that kind of information,” Horner said after the race in Russia.

“But you’d assume that [with] the amount of Mercedes engines that are being changed in their sister cars and customer teams, you’d expect potentially for there to be a penalty, but obviously we can’t rely on it.”

Red Bull adviser Helmut Marko told Sky: “I hope that our information is correct. According to that, Lewis will have to change again. Going from last place on the grid to the podium doesn’t happen that quickly.

“The upcoming tracks are to our advantage, especially because of the altitude in Brazil or Mexico. We need to win again now, but feel strong enough and attack again.”

Verstappen, 23, will be full of confidence heading into the Turkish Grand Prix next weekend following a crucial podium finish in Sochi to keep pace with Hamilton in the driver’s standings.

And he's confident he has no more penalties to worry about this season regarding PU changes.

"We'll be fine with this engine to the end.” Verstappen said. "We talked about it a little bit. With the weather conditions and everything, and then also with the laps we did, it was the right decision.

"We knew anyway we had to take one – take the pain once and look for a good result in the race.”

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