Will Verstappen's grid penalty cause Hamilton to change his plans?

15-09-2021 09:19 | Updated: 15-09-2021 09:37
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Will Verstappen's grid penalty cause Hamilton to change his plans?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have both yet to use a fourth engine in 2021, for which they will receive a grid penalty. With his grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix, the choice for Verstappen seems easily made, but will Mercedes have changed plans after the crash between the two bantams in Italy?

Verstappen takes grid penalty in Russia

It seems a given that Verstappen and Red Bull Racing will opt to take the grid penalty for a new engine in Russia. Verstappen will have to change engines one more time, and with a three place grid penalty already in his pocket, it's a logical choice to take that extra penalty in Russia. Besides that it is one of the last real Mercedes circuits, and Verstappen has shown here in the past that he can overtake well.

In all likelyhood, Mercedes also have to introduce a new engine for Hamilton, and Russia seemed the ideal opportunity for that as well. In Russia, you can easily overtake, and it is a real Mercedes circuit where even from behind Red Bull might be able to win. However, one wonders if Mercedes will be willing to risk putting Hamilton on the last row of the grid next to Verstappen, and possibly losing points again because of a touch on a 'Mercedes circuit'.

Other options for Mercedes

Fortunately, there are alternatives for Mercedes. After the Russian Grand Prix we head to Turkey (if that goes ahead), but at that circuit, it doesn't seem ideal to return to the front of the grid from behind. The best chance is in America or Mexico for Mercedes. Mercedes is normally strong in America though, so you have to wonder if they want to lose points here.

The biggest contender is therefore the Mexican Grand Prix. This is a typical Red Bull circuit. The track is very high, and the Honda engine and Red Bull Racing car always perform well there. Mercedes has more trouble there, but overtaking is not a problem with the long straight. Mexico seems to be the best option for Mercedes to let Hamilton start from the back of the grid.

Mexico is still a few races away though, which might make it necessary for Mercedes to reduce the current engine power in order to make it last longer. On the other hand, there are only five races left on the calendar after the Mexican GP, so the engine can be revved up a bit more.

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