Mercedes to ‘retrace weekend’ to see how it “could have won” US GP

Toto Wolff says Mercedes will conduct a full review to investigate how it “could have won” Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix after it was beaten to the victory by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.

Despite taking the lead on the opening lap from second on the grid, Hamilton lost out to Verstappen through the pit stop phase.

Red Bull’s aggressive two-stop strategy allowed it to gain track position over Hamilton, meaning the seven-time champion had to overtake on track.

The warmer track temperatures meant running in the turbulent air of another car made it more tricky than usual as the tyres were overheating, ensuring Hamilton couldn’t get close enough to make a move in the closing laps.

Reflecting on the race, Wolff said: “I think we could have won the race, of course because we were in the lead and we had a very strong pace on the hard. But in a way, we need to retrace the weekend from Friday to Sunday: where did we misjudge, where did we get it wrong and what did we do well. 

“There will be plenty of positive discussion about what to learn from this weekend. I don’t believe there is a particular pattern going forward of who suits what track, it’s very different regulations and we just need to push and push and push and fight for the championship until the very last race.”

Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin admitted that it could have called Hamilton in earlier given its superior performance on the harder tyre.

“Had a crystal ball and perhaps realised that the hard tyre would’ve been a better tyre for us,” Shovlin explained. “Realistically the options to win the race probably boiled down to retain the lead after the very good start Lewis made by stopping early, maybe going as early as lap eight. 

“But given that we were struggling on the Mediums on such a short stint, we would never have been brave enough to do that, just to hold the lead, it would’ve felt like we would’ve compromised the whole race. I think we could’ve gone for an early stop, we could’ve made the finish but it would’ve just been a case of pull the trigger early, hope for the best and see whether Lewis can keep Max at bay. But really, that’s the main opportunity.”

Shovlin dismissed a one-stop strategy as a viable option.

“No, you saw in the final stint a lot of the field started managing more and they got the degradation under control,” Shovlin added. “But when people were pushing hard, the tyres were falling off at an incredible rate. So one-stop would’ve been out of the picture, whether or not you could’ve made it, for us the Medium wasn’t good enough. 

“We could’ve done it with two Hards, but you can’t race that. But for us we were struggling too much on the Medium and a three-stop, you couldn’t make the pit stop back. So it was a nailed on two-stop which is what we expected coming here.”

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