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Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the way they approach the Brazillian Grand Prix will be no different this weekend despite their main title rival Lewis Hamilton being hit with another engine penalty. Hamilton picks up his fifth ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, meaning the seven-time world champion cannot start higher than sixth ahead of Sunday’s main event.
Verstappen currently has a 19-point lead over Hamilton in the driver standings, with just four races remaining of the 2021 season.
But Horner was adamant the blow to the Briton does not affect their approach this weekend.
“It doesn’t change anything for us, we’ve just got to focus on doing the best job that we can,” said Horner speaking to Sky Sports F1. “There’s some weather around today, we’ve got the sprint race and then the main race on Sunday.
“It’s entirely understandable that Mercedes have strategically decided to take that penalty here, which they’ll incur on Sunday.
“We’re just focused on ourselves and doing the best job we can.”
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Red Bull remain one point behind Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship thanks to back-to-back double podiums for the team in the United States and Mexico.
Perez finished third in both races, and despite Horner reiterating the penalty means nothing to them this weekend, he admitted it was perfect timing for the Mexican to be in good form.
“Same focus as usual, he got close to pole again in Austin a few weeks back, he was quick all throughout the weekend in Mexico, I think he’s just finding confidence,” added Horner.
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“As a driver, there’s no substitute for that, racing results, so he’s on a bit of a roll and absolutely the right time for us.”
Mercedes have been struggling with engine reliability for the past few races, with Bottas now on his sixth fresh component, whilst Hamilton was forced to take a new one in Turkey.
With every engine change, an immediate grid penalty is handed to the driver, and with just four races remaining, Hamilton and Mercedes know they cannot drop any more points, or – even worse – suffer a mechanical failure that drops the seven-time world champion out of the race.
The Sao Paulo Grand Prix is the last of three events to run the ‘sprint’ format this season, with qualifying at 7pm BST on Friday, the sprint on Saturday at 7:30pm, and the race at 5pm on Sunday.
Like Silverstone and Monza, qualifying moves from Saturday to Friday, which will set the grid for the shortened race on Saturday.
The results of that race then decide the grid for Sunday’s race, with points for the top three fastest drivers on Saturday.
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