Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Mercedes plan in-depth review of race they “could have won”

2021 United States Grand Prix

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The United States Grand Prix was a race Mercedes could have won, team principal Toto Wolff admitted after Lewis Hamilton chased winner Max Verstappen home.

Hamilton led the opening stint of the race but fell behind Verstappen after their first pit stops. He closed rapidly on the Red Bull driver at the end of the race after the pair switched to the hard compound tyres but had to accept second place.

However Wolff believes an opportunity to beat Verstappen slipped through the team’s fingers at the Circuit of the Americas.

“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,” said Wolff. “But in a way, we need to retrace the weekend from Friday to Sunday.

“Where did we misjudge? Where did we get it wrong? What did we do well? And there will be plenty of discussion, positive discussions about what to learn from this weekend.”

Red Bull got Verstappen ahead of Hamilton by pitting him before the Mercedes driver both times. However, that meant leaving their driver on much older tyres than the pursuing Mercedes over the final stint.

Wolff said the race-long fight between the two drivers and teams showed both of them at their best. “You could see the different strategies, one team that went for the undercut out of necessity and a very courageous move because it was very early – and the second time again – and to their advantage.”

Verstappen’s driving was also impressive, Wolff acknowledged. “Particularly in the last stint, you could see he had learned from the second stint not to damage the tyres too early because he had something left at the end.”

Mercedes’ vulnerability on the medium tyre at the start of the race left them at a disadvantage they weren’t able to recover from, said Wolff.

“We were just on the back foot because the car was not fast enough in the first stint on the medium. We couldn’t possibly have gone for an early stop because based on the data we had on the medium it didn’t look like [we] could finish the race on that stage with an early stop.

“Lewis did drive awesomely. He brought the [hard] tyre in – remained calm even though we had six-and-a-half and, on the second stop, eight-and-a-half seconds to Max – brought it in, increased the pace and at a certain stage there was just a massive difference.

“That was brilliantly executed but just not close enough at the end. When you follow a car you start to suffer a bit and I think if we would have had two laps more, who knows. But it is what it is and you need to congratulate Red Bull for their [pit] stops.”

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2021 United States Grand Prix

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30 comments on “Mercedes plan in-depth review of race they “could have won””

  1. you have to say, that’s pretty sportsmanlike from Wolff, especially so soon after the race. to be applauded.

  2. This race seemed pretty reminiscent of Bahrain – aggressive early stop to gain track position, and judged just well enough to have the pace in the end to grab the win. In hindsight, it looks like Hamilton could have won by pitting pre-emptively on lap 10 (Max would have likely stayed out in that case), since Merc looked slightly stronger on the hard tyres and they would have had track position. But it’s very difficult to make that early call when you’re already leading the race. I did kind of predict that the person in 2nd place after the first corner would win this race, though I thought it might be a 1-stop vs 2-stop scenario.

    1. This was like Bahrain. Not as severe in terms of degradation though, because in Bahrain, the undercut was like 3 seconds. Here it was like 1-2 seconds at maximum. I thought when Hamilton absolutely massacred the fastest lap late in the race, that he would have at least 3 laps within drs range, but I guess the flaw of these cars in following continues to be exposed. This track actually reminds me of Sepang a bit in terms of surface and degradation. Maybe Mercedes were pushing to a one stop by Hamilton not pushing too much on the tyres in the first stint, while Red Bull were doing the opposite? And because of Perez being within range, Hamilton could not extend the first stint that much. I mean this race was more 2 stop than 1, but before the race, some believed that one stop was possible.

    2. Yes, it worths the review, but RB-Max seemed faster all the weekend.
      I suppose that if VER kept the lead after lap 1, the RB win was equally secured.
      Maybe the turn 1 lead change was a situation in which “a gift is not a gift.”
      Occasionally, it would may forced Mercedes into a early pit stop and, as you said, lead to a diffeerent result.
      HAM essentially took 10s in 20 laps from VER after the last pit.
      HAM-Mercedes could’ve won that race but I cannot see as a strategy/driving failure.

      1. I think Max was clearly faster on the mediums in the first stint, so if Lewis didn’t lead after the first corner I think his problem would have been staying close enough to Max to threaten the undercut. If he couldn’t stay within 2 seconds of him, then Max could always cover his pitstop on the following lap. Redbull’s strategy worked because he was close enough for a one-lap undercut to work which meant Mercedes couldn’t respond – they had to go long because they had already lost track position to the undercut. So I think Mercedes’ route to victory would have been for Lewis to lead the first stint, but then pull the trigger early with the ‘undercut’ to ensure they kept track position.

        But that is only in hindsight knowing how everything turned out. According to Toto they weren’t even confident they could make the 2-stopper work with a lap 10 pitstop so it would have been a very bold call to make and would have looked like quite a blunder if it didn’t work out.

        1. Absolutely true, mercedes were put in a difficult position here, like red bull in bahrain and spain, when the opponent pits and you can’t pit the lap after cause you already lost track position, mercedes here kinda tried what red bull could’ve tried in spain in the end.

    3. Yes, you predicted it, I saw the comment the other day, so good job, it wasn’t a thing I’d have thought.

  3. Eh, I think they did all they could. They took the lead at the start. Then tried to overcome superior race pace of rbr by going long to get them to pit early in stint 2 to avoid a undercut. The other option was to try the undercut for stint 2 but probably was not close enough at the time, and the end of the race showed that the top speed could not overcome the better s1 pace by verstappen.

  4. i think RBR have 2021 in the bag, if they just stay on course.. they have the car this time. driver they always had..

    1. Difficult to say. It seems the first race in a while where the Mercs weren’t the outright best. I thought Max was cruising earlier in the year when he was 30 plus points ahead but we all know what happened in the next two races. I hope I’m wrong but I feel there are some DNFs due which could massively change things.

      1. Absolutely, it takes you potentially 4 races to gain 24 points, considering with perez and bottas not at the level of the leaders it’s possible for the 2nd placed driver to go for fastest lap often, and then if you dnf and the opponent wins (likely) you lose 1-2 points more than that in 1 race, it’s absolutely impossible to say it’s over with minimal gaps under 25 points I’d say.

  5. They missed Bottas out there when Verstappen did his second pitstop. 2 v/s 1 situation is hard to deal with.

    1. In reality it was pretty much 1 vs 1. Pérez wasn’t really a factor as he quickly lost ground after the first round of pit stops and the race was pretty much a 2-stopper, so there was little Red Bull could do to give him track position over Hamilton. Bottas didn’t look impressive all weekend, so even without the grid penalty he probably wouldn’t have been of much help to Hamilton I think.

      1. As Perez mentioned, not having any drinks made him quickly suffer and feel like he was just hanging on by about lap 20, and it really showed in how he just was not able to be a factor yeah @f1infigures

      2. Besides the drinks challenge Perez was a big help during the first half of the race.
        By Pitting him early they forced Hamilton to do his first stop soon as well, and thus Lewis had only a 3-lap tyre advantage during the middle stint.

        1. Mercedes didn’t have to pit Hamilton as early to cover Pérez, as he was quite far ahead. He could have gone one or two laps longer at least. Shortening his first stint may actually have helped Hamilton as he wasn’t that fast in the opening stint.

          Maybe without the drinks problem Pérez could have been more useful, even though the race was a clear 2-stopper, so I don’t think there wasn’t a lot Red Bull could have done with his strategy to annoy Hamilton.

  6. Beauty of this race was in about equal chances for either to win.. And those chances varied through out the race.

  7. Perhaps he should’ve pitted earlier on both occasions or at least the first time to avoid getting undercut, although this wouldn’t necessarily have made a difference outcome-wise. Possibly, but not automatically.

    1. In fact I think as long as he could stay ahead, slowing down verstappen in a phase he was faster was good strategy wise.

      1. @esploratore1

        In fact I think as long as he could stay ahead, slowing down verstappen in a phase he was faster was good strategy wise.

        On the other hand, Mercedes would go to the hards earlier with which they were faster themselves. It could have worked out.

  8. An easy ‘in-depth analysis’.
    Mercedes took the lead and had a strong 2-stop strategy; nothing they could have done better.
    But Red Bull had an even better strategy though, and a lot of luck and good driving.
    Other than having a spy in Red Bull’s team, and pitting with Verstappen the first time, they could have done nothing.

    The genius in Red Bull’s strategy was pitting the 2nd time before Hamilton was in the undercut window.

    PS was it really necessary for Bottas to take a penalty. And couldn’t he pass the 5 cars in front of him a bit quicker (at all)?

    1. and a lot of luck

      i seem to have missed the “luck” part..
      Can you elaborate on that?

  9. Lets wait for the actual analysis from one of the Jameses on their Youtube channel. Wolff always dreams that they could have won races which clearly never were theirs to win. How on earth did they stand any chance to win this one? Indeed they could hope that Verstappen ruined his tyres early. Like he did a few times already, but he had such a car advantage that even that was unlikely to have been enough. Nor did he need to since he could pretty much cruise and keep the gap.

    1. Mercedes the faster start.
      Mesrcedes the faster car on the hard tire ( about 80% of the race)
      Mercedes the fastest lap.

      Did you missed more ?

      1. Did you missed more ?

        RBR Race Win. That about sums it up.

        1. Strategy and racecraft did that.. the faster car on track by a margin was a Mercedes.
          But F### up your strategy does not win you races as shown in austin.
          RBR took a big risk with this aggressive strategy and very early stop. But it paid out big time.

          1. Agree mercedes was faster on hard, but red bull was faster on medium, like you said hard was most of the race.

  10. Like others a toss-up between Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc, but the last lap defence of Verstappen was something special with purple vital first sector, more than making up for his average grid launch. Add his coldly saving tyres for the last lap showdown too which not many would have been able to.

    1. wrong topic

  11. Mercedes a taste of their own medicine with one car against two, even though it only was in play for the first stop

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