Lewis Hamilton acknowledges that Mercedes made life “hard for ourselves” as they committed to a two-stop strategy early in the United States GP.
Hamilton arrived on the Circuit of the America’s grid with a first opportunity to close out the Drivers’ Championship.
It was not to be.
He was challenged on the opening lap by Kimi Raikkonen, losing ground to the Ferrari driver, who he then dogged for nine laps before taking an early pit stop.
That set Hamilton up for a two-stop race from which he could not recover, bringing his W09 home in third place.
“I naturally thought we would have been able to do better, but this was the best we were able to do in the end,” he said.
“I think, ultimately, I came out and had the pit window, it was very very close.
“I made the stop and it was 12 seconds, it was way way too far to catch up.
“I’m not sure how the strategy came out like that, and that’s always difficult because you only get a certain amount of life with a brand new tyre to make a difference, and once you make 12 seconds up, you have none left.
“But I’m still really happy, Ferrari have upped their game here and we go on now to the next race.”
He conceded that the early stop made life difficult as it meant he would have to stop again whereas those he was racing could stick to one-stoppers.
He added: “A little bit of a surprise, but you can’t always make it right.
“Once we had done the stop on 11, I knew we would be doing two. We made it so hard for ourselves.”
Hamilton took the chequered flag 2.3s behind Raikkonen in what was a thrilling end to the race as he faught with Max Verstappen for second place.
“Congratulations to Kimi – he did a great job today, no mistake,” he added.
“Verstappen did a great job as well – he was on a slightly better tyre than us at the end, so naturally [it was] a bit of a struggle but it was great that we got to do some racing at least.”
Hamilton is now 70 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel and only needs a P7 in Mexico to secure the title.