Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton will have his “spicy” engine rolled out again for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton won the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday to close the gap on championship leader Max Verstappen to eight points with two races of the season remaining.
Hamilton had a fifth new engine of the season fitted in his Mercedes in Sao Paulo earlier this month and won despite two grid penalties. The other engine was back in the car in Qatar, but it now looks like Mercedes are ready to make another switch.
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“Saudi should be a good track for us, but we know this year when you think it’s a good one it can turn the other way around,” Wolff told Sky Sports.
“But it’s a long straight, we’ll get our spicy equipment (engine) out for Saudi Arabia that we didn’t use (in Qatar) and hopefully Valtteri (Bottas) is right up there – we need him. But in any case, if everyone finishes the race it will go to Abu Dhabi.”
If Hamilton wins in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi then he will clinch a record-breaking eighth Drivers’ Championship title.
Asked if the Mercedes car is the best it has been all season, Wolff said: “Yes, definitely. I think the car is quick on the straight and good around the corners.
“Degradation works fine – even at races in the Middle East and we have two to come of these – on old tyres. I think we have to push maximum attack. We have to catch up, make some points up and that’s just what we are going to do.
"Lewis is totally in the zone. They woke up the lion in Interlagos on that Saturday and you see that."
The only negatives for Mercedes in Qatar were Bottas retiring due to a puncture and Verstappen taking the fastest lap point away from Hamilton.
With Red Bull’s Sergio Perez finishing fourth, Mercedes had their Constructors’ Championship lead cut to five points.
“It’s funny because the initial feeling is bitter-sweet,” said Wolff. “Both championships are so important now – Lewis was great, that one point is a bit annoying, but it’s great he won the race. And the good news is the car is really fast.
“It seemed to be in a happy spot, he controlled the race from the front and that’s a good indication of what’s to come in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.”
Hamilton agreed with his boss that the Mercedes car feels “better than ever”.
I’m loving it. I love the close battle, and the pressure, and the demands it puts on you, and the whole team. I thoroughly enjoyed it, we’ll be bringing our triple-A game for the last two races. I feel great, the car is better than ever, I am looking forward to the battle.
"The last two weeks have been fantastic, just amazing. But there's no time for celebration, I'll be back with the team already again next week and training tomorrow, stay on it, heads down.
"I don't have too much emotion other than being driven right now, but it's just amazing to be able to close so many points in the last two races which has been important. [Red Bull are] obviously still very fast as you could see today with their fastest lap and both their cars getting past pretty much everyone quite easily. So we've still got our work cut out."
Verstappen, who started fifth on the grid after a penalty, said: “We just didn’t have the pace to match them. But there are two races to go and a lot of things can happen.”
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