Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff says that the race in Las Vegas was another example of where they had the pace but didn’t get the result.
It’s frustrating to say but today was another example of a Grand Prix where we’ve had good pace and not got the result that pace has deserved. Once George was given the five-second time penalty, it was pretty much game over for him in terms of the podium. He definitely had the speed to challenge those at the front, maybe not Verstappen, but possibly Leclerc and Perez. It is what it is though. Lewis also had contact, twice in fact, with neither his fault. He was starting further back on the grid but as others around him showed, there was still a good result up for grabs. His pace was strong throughout, but those two incidents cost him today. We now need to refocus ahead of Abu Dhabi. It’s a tight battle in the Constructors’ Championship and we hope to be able to deliver a strong result there.
Lewis Hamilton had an eventful race. Starting the race from tenth place, Hamilton fell down the order due to a puncture but recovered to finish the race in sixth place.
Speaking following the action, Hamilton said:
It was a really challenging race. I started on the Hard tyre, which was tricky in the beginning. I had a big hit from Sainz into turn one and was then trying not to hit other cars ahead of me. I fell back several places. After that, I was focused on making my way back through the pack and I was feeling great. The tyres were feeling good, and the pace was strong. I went up the inside of Piastri and I am not sure exactly what happened. I felt a big hit from behind, but I think it was a racing incident. I didn’t have a puncture immediately and as I passed the pit entry, I felt the rear moving. I had to do a whole slow lap on it.
I was grateful that I was able to still come back from re-joining in last to score some points. There are strengths in our car but sometimes it’s hard to extract all the performance from it. That is what happened in Qualifying yesterday but I am pleased we were able to show our pace in the race. I am also grateful that the race was exciting. I wasn’t expecting the track to be so great but there was lots of racing and overtaking opportunities. For all those who were so negative about the weekend, I think Las Vegas proved them wrong.
George Russell was handed a 5s penalty for avoidable contact with Max Verstappen and finished the race in seventh place and speaking following the action he said:
Today was on me; I simply didn’t see Verstappen. He was totally in the blind spot, and we made contact; it was completely my fault. We knew they were much quicker than us and I was happy to concede the position. I knew our fight wasn’t with Verstappen and tyre management was more important. It was a real shame as we were on course for a podium. It changed the dynamic of the race too with the Safety Car. It feels like we’ve thrown another one away today and I am really disappointed right now. It is the story of our season.
There are positives we can take into Abu Dhabi. We were in the fight for second on the road today, but we will have to put in a strong showing in the final race to claim P2 in the Constructors’ Championship.
The final race of the season in Abu Dhabi is the final opportunity for the Mercedes to claim a victory as the Brackley-based outfit have yet to claim a win.
Andrew Shovlin, Head of Trackside Engineering said:
There wasn’t anything that went our way tonight. Sainz made contact with Lewis at the start which cost him a number of positions. We then had a puncture with Lewis after contact with Piastri and didn’t have enough time to react and box him before he went past the pits. Finally, George got a penalty after contact with Max. Overall, those three incidents contributed to a frustrating race for us this evening.
Our list of positives isn’t a long one, but it was at least encouraging that the car had good pace. We weren’t as good at controlling the graining on the Medium tyre as Ferrari, so we need to look into that. However, the pace on the Hard tyre was strong so as bad as this race was, it wasn’t anything like as painful as Brazil where we were just plain slow. It’s going to be an exciting battle with Ferrari for P2 in the Constructor’s Championship in Abu Dhabi. We’ll use the next few days to prepare for that. The points gap is small enough that it will, in all likelihood, come down to who scores the most next Sunday. Everything to play for!