Lewis Hamilton says Red Bull was just quicker than Mercedes in all scenarios during the United States Grand Prix despite his late comeback charge against Max Verstappen.
Verstappen had started from pole position but Hamilton took the lead into Turn 1 and kept the championship leader at bay for the first 10 laps. However, Verstappen had been able to stay close and made a very early first pit stop for hard tires, gaining an undercut that forced Mercedes to run long in the middle stint and fight back, with Hamilton coming up just 1.3s short.
“It was a fun race,” Hamilton said. “We had a good start. Then he seemed to be quite close throughout on the medium tire and then obviously they stopped extremely early. Tried to offset myself after that and was hoping it would give us a chance for fighting late on but I think track position was key today.
“I think they were quicker all weekend and on all tires today. Just in the heat — that’s their real strength, has shone through this weekend, a bit like other places, (like) Bahrain this year. I did the best I could with what we had.”
With Red Bull winning at a track Mercedes expected to be strong at, and the next two venues in Mexico and Brazil more likely to suit Verstappen’s team, Hamilton says the aim will be to limit any further points loss after slipping 12 adrift in the championship.
“Well, it’d be an assumption. I don’t know what we could have done differently — we’ll sit down and talk afterwards. The team did a great job today — it was the best with what we had. Yeah, we go into at least the next two tracks for sure very strong circuits for Red Bull, so it’s going to be tough.
“I’m not thinking about it at the moment. Just got to be happy with the job I did today and live in the moment. Weren’t quick enough to win today, but just look forward and take it one race at a time. There are two circuits strong for Red Bull so we’ll have to minimize how strong they can be and do a better job.”