Lewis Hamilton admits he’s struggling to pinpoint why Mercedes found themselves on the backfoot during the United States Grand Prix, despite the seven-time world champion taking the lead going into Turn 1 at the Circuit of the Americas. With title rival Max Verstappen on pole, Hamilton was able to go up the inside of the Red Bull driver off the line, before falling behind after the first pit stop window, eventually finishing second behind the Dutchman.
Mercedes came into the weekend strong, dominating first practice, but since then progressively dropped away from the pace with Red Bull taking the upper hand into the race. But the swing came during the first pit stop window as Red Bull opted to bring Verstappen in earlier than Hamilton, changing from the mediums to the harder compound of tyres. Hamilton followed suit shortly after, but the Milton Keynes-based team struck again with a similar move for the second stop.
Hamilton came in seven laps later for fresher tyres, and despite making huge gains in the latter part of the race, ran out of laps to the end of the race, and eventually crossed the line second, with Verstappen extending his lead to 12 points in the driver standings. And afterwards, Hamilton was left perplexed by the Red Bull’s pace. When asked by Rachel Brooks from Sky Sports F1 if Mercedes should have pitted earlier, Hamilton responded: “I don’t know. I don’t think so.
“I think I gave it everything. I think we gave it everything we had and they [Red Bull] were just quicker than us this weekend. “For whatever reason, I can’t pinpoint it, it looked like they just had better rear end, a little bit less sliding than we had. “I had a great start. I gave it absolutely everything today, and just, unfortunately, couldn’t convert it at the end.”
Verstappen now takes a 12-point lead to Mexico, with just five races remaining, as the Dutchman looks to secure a maiden world title. Yet Hamilton was left frustrated after the race, and blamed a combination of factors for being unable to find a way to close the gap quicker in Austin. “It’s the dirty air and just overheating of the tyres, but what a great, great race down to turn one,” he continued.
“I thought for a second that we might be able to win the race but we have to wait until the next.” Verstappen meanwhile was praised by his boss Christian Horner for his “masterful performance” after he held off the seven-time world champion to take a maiden win in America. Verstappen said: “Of course we lost out in the start so we had to try and do something else.
“The tyre wear is quite high around this track so we went aggressive and I wasn’t sure it was going to work. “The last few laps were tough. I was a bit sideways through the high-speed corners but super happy of course to hang on.” There are just 23 points between Mercedes and Red Bull at the top of the standings, with the British-based German team having their lead cut thanks to Sergio Perez snatching third in Austin.