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Red Bull denies fitting more powerful Honda engine

Red Bull denies fitting more powerful Honda engine
© Reuters
Red Bull has rubbished claims that Max Verstappen is racing ahead of Mercedes because of an improved Honda engine.

Red Bull has rubbished claims that Max Verstappen is racing ahead of Mercedes because of an improved Honda engine.

While Honda did supply the Dutchman and Sergio Perez with fresh engines at Paul Ricard, reports that it allowed Red Bull to crank out more power were denied by team boss Christian Horner.

"They took a tremendous step forward with their engine," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV.

Horner rubbished the claim.

"We can't make any improvements to the engines," he said, referring to covid-era restrictions. "So I don't know what he's talking about.

"We used a thinner rear wing, which is why our straightline speed was good. Honda is doing a great job, but we didn't get any horsepower increase."

Whatever the reason, Lewis Hamilton was surprised with Red Bull's step forward.

"They were suddenly three tenths faster on the straights," said the seven time world champion.

"We need to analyse whether it was just the rear wing or something else."

Another explanation is that while Red Bull is determined to seize the opportunity and finally beat Mercedes to a title in the 'power unit' era, Mercedes has openly stopped developing its 2021 car.

"We are 100 percent focused on next year," Wolff admitted to Corriere dello Sport.

"We have to remember that there are many seasons that come after this one. That's why we are focusing on setup and tyre work to go faster this season, not aerodynamics."

Red Bull's ability to ace the so-called 'undercut' at Paul Ricard is another area that caught Mercedes by surprise in France.

"We'll look at that to keep improving," Wolff admitted. "But I think we had a solid race car and I'm glad we saw an exciting race."

And another pair of exciting races now lies ahead in Austria - on a circuit owned and named after Red Bull.

"It's a power-hungry circuit," said Hamilton. "You've got those long, long straights, so we could see something similar.

"We've got three days to see if we can make any adjustments and improvements. Maybe - if we maximise absolutely everything - maybe we can give them a run for their money."

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Max Verstappen celebrates winning the French Grand Prix on June 20, 2021
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Lewis Hamilton expecting close contest with Max Verstappen in Austria

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States19201352
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151238
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events

· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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