Ralf Schumacher felt Mercedes lacked pace at the United States GP, saying the W12 was a “bit powerless” at times.
Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second best at a race where almost everyone believed he would take the win, and a comfortable one at that.
Although he lost pole position to Max Verstappen on Saturday, the Brit fought back on the opening lap of the grand prix to lead and quickly put a little bit of distance between himself and Verstappen.
Red Bull countered that by putting the Dutchman on an aggressive strategy, going for the undercut in both his pit stops.
The second stop took place eight laps before Hamilton pitted, with the Mercedes driver then quickly beginning to close in on the championship leader with his fresher tyres.
Hamilton ultimately ran out of laps, Verstappen taking the win by 1.333s.
“Mercedes couldn’t keep up with the performance at the beginning,” Schumacher, a former F1 driver, told Sky Germany.
“By the time Lewis got the speed, the race was over.
“The Mercedes was a bit powerless at times.”
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Verstappen’s race win, his eighth of this season, has put him 12 points ahead of Hamilton in the race for the World title.
Schumacher reckons Mercedes need to find something extra if they hope to extend their seven-year run at the top of the standings.
“Red Bull has taken a step forward,” he said. “Mercedes has to stretch. Red Bull is slightly ahead. It remains exciting.”
Toto Wolff though, feels Red Bull went for the undercut “out of necessity” as Hamilton was “awesome” on the day.
“You could see the different strategies [between the teams],” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“One went for the undercut out of necessity and it was a very courageous move, because it was very early, and then the second time again [they pitted first] to their advantage.
“Max’s driving, particularly in the last stint, you saw that he had learned from the first stint not to damage the tyres too early.
“But Lewis also drove awesomely. He brought the tyre in, remained calm when he rejoined from the second stop with 8.5s to Max, brought it in, increased the pace, and at a certain stage there was a massive difference and it was brilliantly executed.
“It was not quite enough [to beat Verstappen] and I think that if we had maybe two laps more, who knows. But it is what it is and you have to congratulate Red Bull for their strategy.”
How the teams perfomed in Austin
Following a solid US GP, PlanetF1 looks at how each team performed during the race.