Max Verstappen’s car will receive a fresh update ahead of this weekend’s title showdown with Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, according to reports. The Red Bull man is currently level on points with his Mercedes rival in the Drivers’ Championship standings and will be desperate to secure the honours by finishing higher up the order than the Brit on Sunday.
Hamilton emerged as the winner of last weekend’s race in Saudi Arabia to put himself on level terms with Verstappen ahead of the upcoming season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The defending champion took the chequered flag despite crashing into the back of his rival and damaging his front wing in a bizarre and controversial incident with 13 laps remaining.
Verstappen was later awarded a 10-second penalty for causing a collision but managed to keep hold of his second-placed finish ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third.
The Dutchman has fallen short to Hamilton in each of their last three outings but will be determined to fight back and deliver with the stakes at their highest on Sunday.
Red Bull are likely to hand Verstappen a new update to aid his hopes of a maiden Drivers’ Championship triumph over Hamilton, according to Auto Motor und Sport.
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The report claims that Sergio Perez tried a small adjustment to the floor of his car in Saudi Arabia, with Verstappen set to receive the same treatment at the next time of asking.
The purpose of the change will be to reduce drag in order to aid straight-line speed and boost their chances of competing with Mercedes in terms of raw pace.
However, there were said to be concerns in Saudi Arabia that the update was reducing grip through medium-speed corners.
Red Bull went on to reverse the change to Perez’s car for the rest of the weekend as the disadvantages outweighted the advantages on the downforce-heavy streets of Jeddah.
It seems as though it could be a different story in Abu Dhabi, which requires a careful blend of power and agility to reach maximum potential.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told reporters on Sunday that he remains confident in Verstappen’s ability to display his title-winning credentials after a hugely impressive campaign to date.
“[In] Abu Dhabi they’ve changed [the track] again so it’s another variant to the circuit,” said Horner.
“We’re going to come out of this weekend and go to Abu Dhabi tied on the world championship, leading by the virtue of race wins. It’s whoever finishes ahead.
“It’s a straight fight as it has been all year. Mercedes have won three in a row, Max won two before that.
“Who’s going to come out on top? I have no idea. Obviously we’ve seen performance in recent races, the form is with Mercedes.
“But again, Max has fought like a lion this weekend. He’s given it everything.”