(GMM) Lewis Hamilton is shaping up as a great Hollywood-quality actor, according to Red Bull’s sarcastic Dr Helmut Marko.
As the final qualifying session of the thrilling 2021 world championship battle now looms in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull camp has hit out at both Hamilton and Mercedes for pointing the “media machine” at Max Verstappen.
“He has used every tool available to him to put Max under pressure this year,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“He (Hamilton) is backed up by the Mercedes media machine – a huge amount of pressure has been placed on Max.”
While all of the attention has been on the likelihood of an aggressive Verstappen move on Hamilton this Sunday, Marko thinks Hamilton has been busily waging psychological games.
“Hamilton is a gifted racing driver, but he doesn’t lack much to go to Hollywood either,” the 78-year-old Austrian told RTL.
Marko said that “acting” is happening both off and on-track.
“There are recordings that show how Hamilton looked in the mirror and pushed Max off the track,” he said, referring to Saudi Arabia a week ago.
“There wasn’t even a warning for that.
“But all of these attempts are being made to portray Max as the bad boy or dangerous driver. Do you remember Silverstone? What happened there was incredible.
“I don’t think it’s fair to run such a campaign against a 24-year-old,” added Marko.
Horner agrees: “He’s a 24-year-old who drives with bravery, passion, skill, and he’s up against not only Lewis but a huge machine in Mercedes-Benz.”
Marko said Verstappen has been shielding himself from all press reports and social media since the tumultuous penultimate round in Saudi Arabia.
“He’s been more or less isolated. And now he’s focused,” he said.
Dr Marko is, however, refusing to rule out the probability of a title-deciding crash on Sunday.
“When the two of them are together, it’s always dangerous. But that’s not our intention,” he said.
If it does happen, and Hamilton ends up winning the title anyway, would Marko swallow his pride and shake the new eight-time world champion’s as well as Toto Wolff’s hands?
“First we have to see how this final goes,” he answered.
Hamilton appeared faster over shorter runs on the modified Abu Dhabi layout on Friday, but Red Bull thinks its long-run pace is actually better.
“Max hasn’t been in the fastest car since the summer break,” Horner insists. “It’s Max who has kept us in the fight for the title.”
And how is Verstappen himself feeling ahead of qualifying in Abu Dhabi?
“I’m actually very calm,” the Dutchman told Ziggo Sport. “I know that if the car is good enough then we will win it, and if the car is not good enough it will be very difficult.
“But I’m only 24, so I don’t think I’m going to freak out either way. It will be fine.”