Damon Hill has named his pick to win the United States Grand Prix between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. With just six races remaining of the season, the former F1 driver has weighed in on who he thinks will win the next event this weekend.
With just six points separating Verstappen from Hamilton at the top of the table, the championship is on a knife-edge with the Dutchman currently leading the way.
However, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warning Hamilton a non-finish could decide the title, Hill was adamant he knew who would be crowned winner in Austin.
“I think Lewis is going to win, but that would also just bring him back perhaps into touch and there’ll be nothing between them in points,” Hill said on the F1 Nation podcast. “In fact, Max could come out of this one point in the lead if Lewis wins in the States, so how finely balanced is that?”
Despite the warning, boss Christian Horner believes Red Bull actually have the upper hand overall this season, adding he thinks Mercedes could suffer from additional reliability concerns across the remaining races.
Hamilton took a fourth engine ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, however, Red Bull’s Verstappen went one better during the Russian Grand Prix, and took an entire fourth power unit.
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It meant Verstappen started at the back of the grid, whilst Hamilton only incurred a 10-place grid penalty in Istanbul for taking a fresh ICE [internal combustion unit].
But their fortunes differed during the races, as Verstappen made his way up from 20th to finish second after Red Bull perfectly timed their tyre change as rain began to fall in the latter part of the race.
Yet when Hamilton was serving his 10-place penalty, found himself finishing fifth in Istanbul due to the Briton refusing to change his tyres with a drying track.
Horner believes Red Bull are in a much stronger position, and in theory, won’t have to take another grid penalty due to engine or power unit changes.
“You can do all the sims and modelling you like and then something variable happens,” said Horner. “There is no such thing as total stability like you have in a simulated world to the end of the year.
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“There could be other twists and turns in this, let’s wait and see.”
“It depends so much on whether Red Bull can find a little bit more. I just think Lewis, after Turkey, they [Mercedes] showed they had a bit in hand, a bit to help them along the way.
“But, things happen, and we are not sure what will take place.”
With the championship finally poised to go either way over the next six races, Hamilton and Verstappen will both know the risks, mechanically and on track.
And with two unknown tracks added to the calendar with Qatar and Saudi Arabi added to the line-up, Hill admitted the pressure will be on both drivers.