Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin have both suggested that Lewis Hamilton will be the favourite to win this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen. The Brit currently trails his Red Bull rival by eight points in the Drivers’ Championship standings with just two races left to decide this year’s closely-fought battle for glory.
Verstappen has edged Hamilton for the majority of the campaign to date and will have the opportunity to rubber-stamp his first title in Saudi Arabia. He will clinch the individual honours if he wins on the streets of Jeddah and Hamilton finishes in seventh place or lower. The Dutchman will also come out on top if he takes second place and his Mercedes counterpart fails to score a point.
However, the latter can fight back to secure a remarkable eighth Drivers’ Championship triumph if he wins both remaining Grands Prix regardless of what Verstappen does. Hamilton has enjoyed a considerable pace advantage over his title rival in recent weeks and will be aiming for a third successive race victory in Saudi Arabia. The defending champion will have the added benefit of a powerful new engine, with Mercedes set to reinstall the same unit that carried him to a dominant victory in Brazil earlier this month.
It seems as though the general consensus is that Hamilton will be the odds-on favourite to take the chequered flag once again this weekend as the grid travels to Jeddah for the very first time. Red Bull chief Horner has suggested that Verstappen could be in for a long afternoon if Mercedes are successful in maintaining their impressive speed advantage at the penultimate Grand Prix of the year. “I think it’s going to be tight [but] the next track arguably should favour Mercedes,” Horner told RaceFans.