F1: Mercedes under pressure for ‘first time in years’

(GMM) Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes will be dealt another blow if he is forced to take another engine change penalty in 2021.

While Red Bull-Honda was clearly inferior to Mercedes in Turkey, Max Verstappen reclaimed the world championship lead in part thanks to Hamilton’s engine change – his fourth unit for the season.

And that could now become five.

“In Turkey we brought this fourth internal combustion engine, and it is possible that the moment will come when we say it is worth the risk to bring another fresh engine,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admits.

“The last word on that is yet to be spoken.”

Verstappen, on the other hand, should now race all the way to the season finale with his current engine allocation, having taken his penalty for a fourth unit at Sochi.

“Max should get through to the end without further penalties,” team boss Christian Horner confirmed.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks to the media in the Paddock (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“We now have three engines in the pool that we can use. But you can never be too sure about that.

“Apparently Mercedes is having a few problems with reliability, but their performance is still impressive. I don’t know if one is related to the other.”

No matter what happens, it’s all good news for Formula 1’s fans.

“This is really a great season with many different winners,” Horner agrees. “It’s almost a shame that everything will be changed for next year.

“In the final sprint, some random factors will certainly play a role, like engine penalties and the weather.

“It will certainly be two fascinating months.”

What is also clear is that Red Bull will keep piling the pressure on Mercedes and Hamilton in the quest to give F1 a different winner for the “first time in years”.

“This is the first time in years that Mercedes is under this kind of pressure,” Horner told Sport Bild.

“Max has everything in balance and drives consistently, but we’re used to that now. He’s also gained more experience in the meantime.

“He’s ready for the title.”