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Red Bull's Helmut Marko taunts Lewis Hamilton: 'Maybe he's thinking he should have stopped last year'

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Red Bull's Helmut Marko twists the knife as he claims Lewis Hamilton 'should've stopped last year' - GETTY IMAGES
Red Bull's Helmut Marko twists the knife as he claims Lewis Hamilton 'should've stopped last year' - GETTY IMAGES

Dr Helmut Marko, the Red Bull motorsport advisor, has rubbed salt into Lewis Hamilton’s wounds following his chastening Emilia Romagna Grand Prix experience by suggesting the seven-time world champion is “maybe thinking he should have stopped” last year.

Hamilton started and finished Sunday’s race in 13th place, suffering the ignominy of being lapped by race winner Max Verstappen of Red Bull with almost a third of the race still to go.

It was only the third time in Hamilton’s career he has been lapped on performance grounds.

Although Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Hamilton after the race for providing him with what he described an “undriveable'' car, Hamilton’s team mate George Russell finished fourth in the same machine. That led Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion and Hamilton’s former team-mate, to comment that Wolff was simply trying to massage Hamilton’s ego and that the 37-year-old needed to accept that he had a “big role to play” in his poor result.

Hamilton did that, apologising to his team on Sunday night, and was clearly extremely despondent. But Marko chose to kick him while he was down. “I mean, he was lapped by us,” the Austrian told Sky Sports F1. “So… maybe he’s thinking he should have stopped last year.”

Marko also had a little dig at Ferrari who had a frustrating race, with drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc both spinning, the former out of the race, the latter late on trying to catch Sergio Perez in second place.

Leclerc recovered to finish sixth but saw his lead over Verstappen cut to just 27 points. “What we saw is that if you put real pressure on [Ferrari] they are making mistakes,” Marko said. “You could see Leclerc spun on Friday twice, Sainz spun today, Leclerc again.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was much more diplomatic in his post-race briefings, predicting that Hamilton would be back. Horner even momentarily forgot how many championships the 37-year-old had won, giving him an extra one, which may amuse those who feel he was robbed of last year’s title. “He's obviously had a horrible weekend, but he's still an eight-time world champion,” Horner said. “Sorry, seven!

“No look, he hasn't forgotten how to drive in the last four races. At some point they'll sort their issues out and he'll become a factor.”

Wolff said he was hopeful that would be sooner rather than later, with changes being readied for the next races in Miami and Barcelona which could help Mercedes run their car at a lower ride height.

At the moment, Wolff said, Mercedes are having to run the W13 so high, to mitigate against the effects of ‘porpoising’ - bouncing up and down at high speeds - they are losing all their downforce.

"We very much believe that the science we are putting in at the moment will help us to, in effect, run the car lower,” Wolff said. "It is where we believe we have all the aerodynamic goodness, but we haven't been able to unlock it because of the bottoming of the car [porpoising].”

"If we are able to get on top of that, that means there's quite some lap time we can find. If not, we need to have another idea."

He added: "The fundamental issue that, in a way, overshadows everything, is that our car is porpoising more than others. Because of the bouncing, we are not able to run it where it should run, and that has huge ramifications on the set-up, on the tyre grip etc. So, one is interlinked to the other.

“I think if we get on top of the porpoising we would unlock much more in terms of performance on the car. If we don't get on top of that, there are more conventional development paths that we have not yet taken. I want to give us the time to really properly take such a decision.”

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