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.
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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