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Formula 1 United States GP

Wolff: Mercedes had car to beat Verstappen at F1’s US GP

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits his team had a car to win Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, but lost the race through strategy and slow pitstops.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Lewis Hamilton produced Mercedes’ most competitive race of the season so far as he made the most of a floor upgrade to challenge Max Verstappen for the win.

But although he got within 2.225 seconds by the chequered flag, the team was left ruing what might have been as it had lost valuable time through an extended first tyre stint that did not pay off, and then slow pitstops.

However, it proved irrelevant post-race as Hamilton was disqualified for excessive car plank wear, while Charles Leclerc was also excluded from the results for the same reason.

Asked by Autosport if he felt Mercedes had had a car to triumph, Wolff - speaking before Hamilton's disqualification - said: “Yeah. I think the car was quick. Lewis drove fantastically and if I count all the things that went against us…

“You could say, maybe we could have gone for a two-stop and just cover him [Verstappen], and I think both stops were not great. But it's an equipment topic and not a human.

“And then we lost two seconds behind [Lando] Norris, and probably 1.5 seconds behind Ricciardo. But fair dues, this is how we race, and, at the end, it wasn't sufficient. So, no blame.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, on the podium with his trophy

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 2nd position, on the podium with his trophy

Wolff believed the critical factor in the race slipping away from it was when it tried to extend the first stint in pushing for a one-stop – and the tyres fell off a cliff.

“On last 19 or 20, when Max pitted, we knew that we only needed to make three more laps to make a one-stop stick,” he said.

“Then the performance just went downhill massively. And that probably was one or the reasons that we couldn't monetise. But overall, I think we need to be happy with the performance.”

Interestingly, Wolff admitted that Mercedes was steered towards trying an alternative approach because it felt that there was little point in thinking it could challenge Verstappen on the same strategy – as the Red Bull had been so dominant all season.

“It certainly played a role in that we believed if we were on the same strategy, like Max, cover him, be a few seconds ahead of him, that would not be enough to win the race,” said Wolff.

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“And that's okay. He has been dominating all year. So that's a bit of a mindset you are taking into such a decision.

“With the one stop, we felt we could win, or there's more bigger chances to win. And at the end, the [tyre] performance was not as we thought.”

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