Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes urged to take penalty ahead of Qatar GP to beat Max Verstappen

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have been told to consider fitting a new internal combustion engine (ICE) for the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi. The F1 title battle between Hamilton and Max Verstappen will reach a climax in the next few weeks, with the next instalment of their rivalry coming in Qatar this weekend.

Hamilton is refusing to give up hope of surpassing Michael Schumacher to become the first ever driver to win an eighth title and gave his chances of doing so an injection of fresh belief with a remarkable weekend in Brazil at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Briton overcame disqualification from qualifying, which dropped him to last place in Saturday’s sprint race, to finish P5. He still had to start P10 for Sunday’s race due to a five-place grid penalty for fitting a new ICE.

Yet the defending champion, who has now taken five ICEs this season, still managed to beat Red Bull’s Verstappen at Interlagos in what he called “one of the best weekends, if not the best weekend, I have experienced in my whole career”.

The 36-year-old was up to P2 after 19 laps and then swept past the Dutchman later on in the race, eventually finishing 10 seconds clear out in front as he produced a sublime drive in South America.

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And former F1 driver Martin Brundle thinks it could benefit Hamilton in his attempts to outdo Verstappen to fit a new ICE for the season-ending Abu Dhabi race if the title has not been decided before then.

Doing so would give Hamilton extra horsepower that could be vital against a similarly fast Red Bull with his rival winning nine races to his six so far this year.

The pair could even go into the final race exactly level on points if Hamilton wins both races in Qatar and Saudi Arabia and Verstappen finishes second with neither driver taking the fastest lap at either event.

Writing in his Sky Sports column, Brundle said: “Next up is a track in Qatar, which Valentino Rossi will know infinitely better than any F1 driver, and it may well suit his bike more than our F1 cars.

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Hamilton’s new ICE gave him vital extra engine power in Brazil after Toto Wolff claimed Mercedes had spotted a trend of “degradation on the engine”.

In response to seven-time world champion Hamilton’s victory in Brazil, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko said: “It looked like the others had one gear less than Hamilton. Mercedes has succeeded in creating a masterpiece with this rocket for the decisive phase.”

But in response, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said: “I honestly don’t think it’s a power unit issue. From one track to another, a car can adapt better than the other.

“In Mexico, Red Bull had an advantage. In Sao Paulo it was the Mercedes. You can also see it from [Valtteri] Bottas’ performance, who did not change the engine.

“The difference between the two of them was small. What will matter more is how the cars adapt to the next grands prix, of which two are unknown to everyone.”

source: express.co.uk