Red Bull's Marko believes pressure forced Hamilton's Sepang failure

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko believes his team "forced" Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes Formula 1 engine failure in the Malaysian Grand Prix

Red Bull's Marko believes pressure forced Hamilton's Sepang failure

Hamilton retired from the lead of the race on lap 41 while trying to build a gap to allow him to make another pitstop without falling behind the chasing Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who went on to finish first and second.

GARY ANDERSON: Why would Mercedes screw Lewis?

"We clearly had the upper hand - my guess is that we very likely forced [Hamilton] into that engine failure," Marko told the official Formula 1 website.

"We permanently put pressure on him, challenging his lead, as he knew he had to create a gap.

"To go permanently full throttle was probably not the best thing for his engine."

However, Marko believes Red Bull was in such a strong position in the race that it could have taken victory even if Hamilton had finished.

"We knew that we would be strong, but you always have to take into account what Mercedes are doing," he added.

"It took quite a while to understand that we could challenge Mercedes here.

"In the beginning of the weekend we were very skeptical, but then qualifying showed we were not so far off Mercedes - and clearly ahead of Ferrari.

"But even without Hamilton retiring we had some things up our sleeves - I will not say what - just that with both cars on different strategies [with Verstappen having made an extra stop at that stage compared to Ricciardo] we would have challenged him anyway towards the end of the race."

Red Bull denied issuing team orders to get its drivers to hold position in the closing stages, and Marko said Verstappen's challenge of Ricciardo was halted because the Dutchman was harder on his tyres than his team-mate.

"Max was very fast, but also hard on the tyres so he had more than anticipated degradation - and that played a bit to his disadvantage," he said.

"He knew about his tyre situation, because he felt he was losing grip with every lap. So there was not an issue for him keeping position.

"We just told him: 'If you continue with this speed your front tyres will give up in the next couple of laps - and you will probably end up empty handed'."

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