Hamilton led the opening stages in Austin on Sunday, but rivals Red Bull took the initiative by opting for the clearance with Verstappen on lap 11, which helped him move past.
Mercedes tried to counter Red Bull’s approach by extending Hamilton’s stints as long as possible to give him cooler rubber at the end of the race. However, the pace advantage was not enough to bring the world champion close enough to Verstappen for a pass.
Wondering if there were any other options that could have taken the win, Mercedes feels they should have been more courageous by stopping much earlier as they struggled with the medium tires in the first stint. .
Asked what Mercedes should have done differently, Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director, said: “Maybe I had a crystal ball and I realized the hard tire would have been a better one. tire for us!
“In reality, the options for winning the race probably boil down to keeping the lead after Lewis’s very strong start by stopping early – and perhaps stopping as early as lap eight.
“But considering we were fighting in the midrange on such a short stint, we would never have been brave enough to hold the lead. I would have felt like we were compromising the whole race.
“But in this case, I think we could have stopped early and made it to the finish. But we would have had to pull the trigger earlier and then hope for the best, to see if Lewis could keep Max at bay. But really, that was the main opportunity.
While Red Bull may have rolled the dice by going for the first punt when Verstappen got trapped behind Hamilton, Mercedes is not sure he would have had such a chance to do the same had he been second at this. race stage.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, fights with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, at the start
Photo By: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“It changes your state of mind when you’re in P2, because realistically the worst you can finish is P2 given that the races will be won by Lewis and Max with no other issues most of the time,” Shovlin explained. .
“But the big question is, could we have continued? And I’m sure we couldn’t have sat on their gearbox like they did to us.
“Whether we could have even stayed in an undercut beach, that’s another matter. It comes down to this poor performance that we had with the average tire. And if we weren’t in the clearance zone then Max would have just been long and split the race into nice, manageable chunks.
“In this case, the best thing we could do when they underestimated us was to try and create a bit of tire lag. But in the end, the race was not long enough to pay off. .
Mercedes was clear, however, that there was no way Hamilton’s tires would last long enough to allow him to consider a one-stop race.
“We saw that in the last stint a lot of the field started to manage better, and they got the degradation under control,” added Shovlin.
“But when people were pushing hard, the tires fell at an incredible rate. So a stop would have been out of [equation].
“The midrange wasn’t good enough. We could have done this with two hard drives, but you can’t run that. For us we were struggling too much on the midrange and a three saves you couldn’t make up the pitstop gap so it was a tack on two saves which we expected coming here.