Helmut Marko refutes Hamilton’s threat to Verstappen – ‘I can hardly imagine that’

Helmut Marko refutes Hamilton's threat to Verstappen - 'I can hardly imagine that'

 

Red Bull chief Helmut Marko has cast doubt on Lewis Hamilton’s ability to up the levels in 2022, despite the Brit promising to do just that as he gears up to avenge last season’s world title defeat to Max Verstappen. As lights out in Bahrain creeps closer, it seems as though the fighting talk between Mercedes and Red Bull camps is already ramping up.

 

Hamilton and Verstappen always remained within striking distance during last season’s title run-in.

There was significant drama at Sao Paolo, Monza and Silverstone, and the Mercedes man pulled off three wins in the final four races to take his rival to the wire.

 

 

The one race that Hamilton did not win proved decisive, however, as Verstappen pounced on ex-FIA race director Michael Masi’s controversial decision behind a late safety car to snatch the lead on the final lap.

Amid feelings of injustice, Hamilton embarked on a prolonged period of silence following his defeat.

 

 

Helmut Marko refutes Hamilton's threat to Verstappen - 'I can hardly imagine that'

His comeback is now assured, but Marko issued a warning to the seven-time world champion who should have the bit between his teeth in 2022.

The Red Bull chief told Austrian newspaper Osterreich that he expects Verstappen to get even faster this season.

 

 

The 24-year-old has another year of experience behind him, and perhaps an aura of invincibility having traded out No.33 for No.1 on his Red Bull.

As for Hamilton, Marko admitted that the Brit “delivered an incredible second half of the season [in 2021].”

 

 

“But I can hardly imagine that he can drive at this level for much longer. He’s at his peak now and age is starting to come into play,” he added.

That prediction stands in stark contrast to that made by Hamilton himself, who claimed that he would get even better this year when Mercedes launched the W13 earlier this month.

 

 

Helmut Marko refutes Hamilton's threat to Verstappen - 'I can hardly imagine that'

Having licked his wounds from December’s world title defeat, he said: “If you think what you saw at the end of the last year was my best, wait to see this year.”

Indeed, the Brit has plenty of incentive to fight hard during the upcoming season, with a record-breaking eighth world title at stake.

 

 

Verstappen, meanwhile, will be determined to prove that last season’s victory was not merely a result of Masi’s contentious call.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s proposed changes, which included sacking Masi and committing to a review of unlapping procedures behind safety cars, cast a shadow over the Dutchman’s maiden world title triumph.

 

 

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At 37-years-old, time may be running out for Hamilton to cement his place atop the all-time world titles list.

Marko was not shy in pointing out as much with testing underway in Catalonia, where the Silver Arrows no doubt have revenge on their minds.

 

 

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