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No fresh Honda 'rocket' for Verstappen in Saudi

No fresh Honda 'rocket' for Verstappen in Saudi
© Reuters
Dr Helmut Marko has played down reports Max Verstappen may benefit from his own "rocket" engine this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Dr Helmut Marko has played down reports Max Verstappen may benefit from his own "rocket" engine this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

Off the back of news that championship challenger Lewis Hamilton's fresh power unit in Brazil will now return for the final Saudi-Abu Dhabi double header, rumours did the rounds that Honda is also considering a strategic 5-place grid drop for Verstappen.

"An engine change is not planned for Saudi Arabia at the moment," top Red Bull official Marko told f1-insider.com.

"If it comes, it will be in Abu Dhabi," he added.

It is just the next fascinating development in the ultra-intense and close 2021 world championship, alongside all the new predictions of a Senna-Prost like collision that may ultimately decide the winner over the next week and a half.

"They'll probably meet on the track at some point, and if the going gets tough, statistically there is a very good chance of another crash," said former F1 driver and GPDA chairman Alex Wurz.

And the reality of the situation is that, given Verstappen's 8-point lead but apparently slower package, a crash may benefit the Dutchman more.

"Your primary thought as a driver is definitely not like that," Wurz told Osterreich. "And the days when someone intentionally crashes into his opponent are over.

"But it's perfectly legitimate to go really hard when you're in the lead."

Another former driver, Ralf Schumacher, is hoping for a clean fight - and an end to the fiery heat of the off-track battle of the team bosses, too.

"As we are so close to the end now, I hope that some of the topics of the last few weeks will move a little to the side now," he told Sky Deutschland.

"I hope the team bosses hold back a little more, and of course I also hope it doesn't come down to the FIA having to decide the world champion in the end."

Schumacher said he has found the "mutual accusations" of illegal cars, wings, engines and other innovations between Mercedes and Red Bull frustrating.

"I say either have the facts and lodge a protest, or shut up. A great duel like this should stay clean, as anything else would be such a shame," the German said.

"And I'm addressing both sides here."

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Helmut Marko pictured in September 2021
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