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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff sounds warning to Max Verstappen amid F1 title race

Toto Wolff is confident his Mercedes team can pip rivals Red Bull to both the drivers and constructors’ championship with just two races of the season remaining

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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has warned Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team that Lewis Hamilton’s car is faster than it has been at any other point in the season so far.

The title-chasers are separated by just eight points heading into the final two rounds of this epic slugfest between F1’s two main heavyweights.

Defending champion Hamilton is on the wrong side of that divide, with his challenger holding the slender advantage heading into this weekend’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Despite that, Mercedes are feeling good about their chances with both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles still very much up for grabs after Hamilton’s back-to-back wins in Brazil and Qatar.

Wolff was bullish in his pre-weekend notes as he proclaimed the Silver Arrows to be in good shape and ready for this epic brawl.

Toto Wolff is confident in his Mercedes team with two races to go in the 2021 season
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Image:

PA)

Mercedes have endured engine issues throughout the season, with every driver on the grid using a power unit made by the German manufacturer having to go over their seasonal allowance.

Hamilton himself is on his fifth of the year, but has kept his most “spicy” engine in reserve for the business end of the season and Wolff is confident about his team’s chances.

“The car has been performing well recently and is probably in the best place it has been all season, with the drivers confident to push it to the limit,” the Austrian said ahead of the coming weekend’s action.

“We are all excited to still be in the fight at this stage in the season, it’s a privilege and a testament to our resilience when we see where we stood in the early summer. Both titles are wide open, and our mission is clear.

“We’re more motivated than ever and we expect to be in the hunt, so we are all looking forward to the debut Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia.”

Hamilton was punished for his use of extra power units this season in the form of grid penalties in Turkey and Brazil, but his rival Verstappen has argued that those sanctions were illogical.

Lewis Hamilton will be able to rely upon his ‘spicy’ Mercedes engine in the final two races
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Image:

James Moy Photography/PA Images)

The Dutchman stated the extra power advantage gained from a new engine more than makes up for a small grid penalty.

“In theory Mercedes can put in a new combustion engine every Grand Prix, take five places penalty and benefit from the power boost,” Verstappen said after Hamilton raced from 10th place to win in Sao Paulo.

That argument was echoed by former world champion Fernando Alonso this week.

“Those who have exceeded a certain number of engines per year should be sent to the back of the grid,” the Alpine racer told Spanish newspaper AS.

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