Did Mercedes let US GP win slip away? Crucial ‘chinks in the armour’ dissected

Sky F1’s Anthony Davidson has laid bare the “chinks in the armour” that potentially cost Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton victory at the United States Grand Prix. 
Second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 in parc ferme. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States
Second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 in parc ferme. …

A late charging Hamilton, running on an offset tyre strategy, fell just short of challenging Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the lead at the end of Sunday’s race at the Circuit of the Americas. 

The seven-time world champion crossed the line just two seconds behind Verstappen after catching his former title rival on fresher, medium tyres in the closing stages. 

There were suggestions after the race that Mercedes had let a possible win slip away, something that was analysed in depth by Davidson, who picked out several key moments that hurt Hamilton’s chances. 

Firstly, Davidson pointed to a rare but costly mistake from Hamilton when he locked up and ran wide at Turn 11. 

“When you are so close like that, you have to start looking at little details,” Davidson said on Sky. 

“One of these moments came for Lewis down at Turn 11. This was a pretty costly lock up and error there and that critical moment of the race. 

“You had drivers there pitting in front of him, trying to do the undercut. Verstappen was the first of that trio out front doing it. So those laps were critical. 

“I’m being super critical. Lewis has been fantastic all weekend. This is his track, this is his stomping ground. This moment here, the only mistake I saw him make all weekend. 

“And it was unfortunate in its timing, because you are fighting Verstappen and Norris so closely at this point. I think this must have been at least half a second’s worth in just that corner alone, running so wide on the marbles.”

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas,
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB19. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Hamilton also lost vital time during a sluggish pit-stop, which was clocked at 3.6 seconds. 

“Then on top of that, you had the slower pit stop,” Davidson continued. "It’s fair to say that Mercedes haven’t been the best or the fastest this year, but this stop was slower than they would have expected. 

“That was another chink in the armour, one other problem. If you’d have rectified both of those, you would have been now maybe a second down the road from where you where at the end of the race. 

“All of this adds up, especially in a race where you don’t have a safety car, or any virtual safety cars. 

“It’s fair to say that Verstappen had a slow pit stop too but the thing is you have to look at your own race and your own performance. There’s no point looking at others and saying ‘yeah, if’s and buts’. 

“You look at your own team and you do the best job you can. It’s up to the others what they do. People will be using that maybe as a bit of a deflection on Mercedes’ behalf.” 

2nd place Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin,
2nd place Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1. Formula 1 World…

Davidson reckons Hamilton lost potentially another second by being unable to get past the long-running Charles Leclerc at the first attempt. 

“This was another blow for Lewis,” he explained. “It was unfortunate timing, behind Leclerc. He was on the medium tyres, hunting him down. Leclerc is trying to do the one stop strategy here.

“If he’d have just got him in this corner, he would have saved heaps of time. He wasn’t quite close enough, he tried to go around the outside of Turn 2, he didn’t quite have the momentum and couldn’t quite do the switchback as effectively as he would have loved to. 

“He had to follow Leclerc all the way through this high-speed section, losing time hand over fist. Maybe another six-to-seven tenths lost in that whole sequence, maybe even a second because Leclerc was that slow. 

“But then he really had the bit between his teeth. The move on Lando Norris was sublime. It was quick, cat-like reactions to react to that, quick thinking to go to the outside. 

“The door opened for him mid corner and he squares the car, flat-out, uses that extra traction from the fresher medium tyres to get the job done and finish P2.” 

Finally, Davidson called on Mercedes to start being more aggressive with their strategies. 

“I feel like Mercedes didn’t quite understand fully the speed of their car today perhaps, but I still feel like Red Bull, with Max, could have responded on the same strategy. I think Mercedes had to try to think outside of the box in a defence,” he said. 

“Maybe it’s time, with this upgrade now, to stop feeling so negative and defensive and start to attack a bit more with the strategy, as well.”

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