Lewis Hamilton has been forced to settle for runner-up spot behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at consecutive races in Austin and Mexico City as he missed the chance to end his and Mercedes’ winless drought in 2022. 

Hamilton was leading the United States Grand Prix on hard tyres but was overtaken in the closing stages by Verstappen, who was running on mediums.

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At last weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix, Mercedes again opted for alternative tactics to Red Bull, putting Hamilton on a medium-to-hard strategy in the belief that race-leader Verstappen would not be able to go to the end on his set of mediums, having started the race on softs. 

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, whose team’s strategy has come under scrutiny several times this season, thinks Mercedes threw away two potential victories. 

“In Hungary we have been criticised and it’s normally when we are doing things which are not completely right, we are criticised,” he said. 

"Mercedes maybe have lost the last race as well by not choosing the right tyres in Austin. So I think it’s not only down to us somehow to make different choices or making mistakes.”

Binotto said it was always clear to Ferrari that running a soft-to-medium strategy was the best way to go in Mexico. 

“We saw that there was not much degradation on the soft, or sufficient to run a one-stop soft-medium, and we went for it,” he explained. 

“Certainly then in the race we had as well to manage our tyres to make sure that we’re surviving on a one-stop and that maybe as well is part of the cause of our slow pace of today. 

“So managing tyres has been certainly an item a subject for us today. But still we believe that soft-medium was the right choice for the race.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner also took a swipe at rivals Mercedes, revealing his “surprise” at their tyre strategy.  

“I think we would have still had the edge, but they [Mercedes] would have been a lot closer,” Horner said. 

“You could hear their drivers were not very happy about the hard tyre and that's the second weekend in a row that they’ve put that tyre on and it’s cost them a victory, so I was quite surprised at that.” 

Horner also praised Verstappen’s tyre-management, describing it as “masterful”. 

“He controlled the race from the very beginning on those soft tyres, not warming them up too quickly, making sure there was longevity to them,” he added. 

“Actually, when they came off the car, there was still a lot of life left in them. That gave us even more confidence that the medium tyre would be fine as a one-stop. 

“It was a question of not abusing that tyre, which is something he has been masterful at this year.”

Mercedes admit tactical error 

Both Hamilton and teammate George Russell were unhappy with their hard tyres and questioned Mercedes’ decision in Mexico. 

After Sunday's race, Toto Wolff admitted his team made a mistake in hindsight. 

“In hindsight, it’s always easier to judge,” he said. “But I think that the one-stop, medium-hard looked like the right strategy.

“That the medium at the end held on for so long came as a surprise. But the hindsight is the thing. If we were to restart the race, maybe we would choose a different tyre.”

Wolff added: “We felt [the soft] was strong when we discussed it this morning, but not strong enough to really go 30 laps or so. Our models said that a soft-hard would go. Our models didn’t say that a soft-medium would go.

“It could have been to lose more time on the medium and hang it out there for another five, six laps and then try to do 30 laps on the soft. But also that was not a given that it would hold on with Daniel you could see that it was possible.”

Wolff also conceded Mexico likely presented Mercedes with their best chance of winning a race this season. 

“On the simulations, it says yes,” he concluded.