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Christian Horner

Horner expects Hamilton to take a grid penalty

Max Verstappen started from the back of the grid at the Russian Grand Prix after Red Bull elected to change his power unit, and Team Principal Christian Horner believes that Lewis Hamilton may have to do the same before the season ends.

Hamilton zondag rusland 2
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To news overview © Mercedes

Christian Horner is expecting Lewis Hamilton to take an engine penalty at some point during the season run-in.

Red Bull opted to change Max Verstappen's power unit for the Russian Grand Prix, meaning that the Dutchman – who had already been given a three-place grid penalty for his collision with Hamilton at Monza – started from the back of the grid.

Verstappen was able to work his way up to finish second, helped in part by pitting at the right moment for Intermediate tyres during the rain-affected final laps.

Horner believes that, having seen other Mercedes-powered cars change power units, Hamilton may have to follow suit.

"We're not privy to that kind of information," Horner told select media including RacingNews365.com, when asked for his take on the situation.

"But you'd assume that [with] the amount of Mercedes engines that are being changed in their sister cars and customer teams, you'd expect potentially for there to be a penalty, but obviously we can't rely on it."

Mercedes chose to replace some of Valtteri Bottas' power unit elements ahead of the race in Sochi, with the penalty for this meaning that he had to start the race from 16th after qualifying in seventh place.

The team outlined that this was a "tactical opportunity". It could have made things difficult for Verstappen, who started from 20th, but he was able to pass Bottas without too much trouble during the Grand Prix.

Horner was pleased that the move from Mercedes did not greatly affect Red Bull in the end.

"I'm not aware of the reasons why [they changed Bottas' engine]," Horner explained. "It was stated tactically before the race.

"I thought Valtteri was fair with Max when they were racing wheel-to-wheel. He didn't lose any time passing him, and that was an important move in the race.

"Obviously they've got issues like all of us are managing. We're very much focused on our own issues rather than Mercedes'."

F1 2021 Russian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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