Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team have been advised by Martin Brundle to take another five-place grid penalty and get the benefit of a fresh Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) for the upcoming Qatar Grand Prix. The Sky Sports commentator feels it is the best way forward for the Briton to make up ground on Max Verstappen in the Drivers' championship.
The Mercedes team took a similar penalty at last weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix and Hamilton had a clear pace advantage over the rest of the field. He stormed through the field in the sprint race to finish fifth after starting in 20th place. He did the same in Sunday's race when he came from 10th to win the race with a comfortable 10-second lead over Verstappen.
The upcoming race this weekend is at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, which has primarily hosted MotoGP in recent years. The 2021 season will see it host Formula 1 for the first time after the Gulf nation signed a 10-year deal with Liberty Media. The circuit is made up of more than one long straight, which is again expected to suit the Mercedes rocket, and it certainly has Red Bull worried.
"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," Brundle said, as quoted by the Independent.
"This story has plenty more to run, and surely on that form, it's worth Merc considering a new internal combustion engine for the final big showdown. A five-place grid drop could be well worth it, given Lewis passed all the other 19 cars on the grid, 16 of them at least twice."
Red Bull Racing are certain to be worried going into the final three races with Christian Horner admitting that the Mercedes cars were "unraceable" in Brazil. The Austrian team have asked for clarification from the FIA about Mercedes' rear wing, which is expected to be aiding them in the straights, but any ruling on the matter is not expected before the Qatar Grand Prix this weekend.