Lewis Hamilton makes major admission after missing out on US Grand Prix victory

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton on the podium at the US Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton held the P2 trophy at the US Grand Prix, but felt the top step might have been on.

Lewis Hamilton believes that a different strategy call could have put him in with a better chance at victory in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton crossed the line second behind Max Verstappen on Sunday, though was later disqualified, along with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, after their cars were found non-compliant with the FIA’s plank checks after the race.

Having been in touching distance of a first victory on the road since Saudi Arabia in 2021 however, Hamilton thinks his early strategy could have played a part in him missing out on top spot.

Lewis Hamilton explains strategy downfall at US Grand Prix

Verstappen pitted before Hamilton when several seconds behind him in the opening stint, which gave Mercedes the opportunity to pit the following lap and cover to retain track position.

They did not do so however, with Hamilton eventually losing position to the Red Bull driver and falling much further behind Lando Norris in the process.

While he was able to make headway in the race and climb back up to second, almost overhauling Verstappen come the chequered flag, he believes that early strategy call to not bring him in proved costly in the context of the race.

“Yes,” Hamilton said when asked if he felt he could have won if he and Mercedes prioritised track position after the first stint, before adding: “I do think we would have been in a fighting position to fight with Max.

“I think we made our life a lot harder today than it probably needed to be. I think it was going to be hard anyway because these two were very quick.

“I think overall, normally we have really great starts, but we struggled in the starts this weekend, so we lost ground more often than not and I think in one of the pit stops I think I might have been a bit long, which then made it harder for the guys and then the stop wasn’t that great overall.

“So there’s lots of areas that we could have been better, but the positives are that we were, at points, matching them for pace – and to be only two seconds back afterwards at the end of the race, I think is a good sign.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 Driver of the Day: Who has won the award in F1 2023?

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

When pressed on his feelings on his strategy later in the press conference, Hamilton believes Verstappen gained up to 10 seconds on him by pitting earlier, and while he added that he wasn’t fully definite in believing that an earlier stop could have brought victory, the chance of undercutting Norris and gaining track position could have proven extremely beneficial to his chances.

“It wasn’t necessarily that I’m certain,” Hamilton explained. “There’s a huge undercut, a two-second undercut, so in that moment, most likely we should have probably pitted.

“It would have been close, but [I could have] potentially overtaken Lando in that scenario. It would have still been close between us all because I think we were all similar in pace, but I think we just lost too much time in extending.

“I really dropped off a cliff in performance and then when I came out, these guys [Verstappen and Norris, ed.] were miles up the road – and when Max came into the pits he wasn’t even close to me.

“The offset is helpful when their tyres are starting to drop, but that didn’t seem like it really made a big enough difference.

“It was really hard to close up that big gap they had, we were all doing similar times, so they both drove really well.”

Read next: US Grand Prix: Max Verstappen battles brake issues in record-equalling F1 victory