Much to the delight of winner Verstappen, Red Bull’s tactic worked: “The two long stints on the hard tires worked out well for us. I drove at my own pace, but of course I pushed harder in the end and luckily there was still something in the tires, the last three or four laps, ”explains the Dutchman.
Mercedes struggles with the missed opportunity after Hamilton’s rocket launch. “That was probably the best start I’ve had this year. That put us in a good position, ”said the defending champion. Verstappen’s pace in the first stint was much better than Hamilton’s, who had no chance against the undercut. “As a result of the rule changes this year, you lost less downforce at the rear than we did. I tried to counter that, but once they were up it got difficult, ”said Hamilton.
In the end, the Brit got close enough to the Dutchman, but neither close enough for an attack, let alone over: “I was hoping that I would catch up with him, but the bottom line was that we were just too far behind and they didn’t have such high tire wear values either . It would have taken me a few more laps to get past, ”said the Mercedes star about his race to catch up on Verstappen, who was able to stay ahead of him despite eight laps of older tires.
Sports director Toto Wolff also believes: “We could have won because we were ahead after the top start and later had good pace on the hard tires.” The problem: the timing. When Hamilton was ahead, he was too slow. When the Briton finally had the pace, he drove behind Verstappen. “Red Bull was faster on the medium, we on the hard tire,” Wolff explains the rubber dilemma for his team.
The Austrian also compliments the competition in Austin: “You have to say: you chose a pretty aggressive strategy, risked really well and won in the end. The undercut was very early and a risk we might not have taken in the form. We did it that way in Bahrain and just won. They have now succeeded in doing that today. “
One reason for the defeat was Mercedes’ inexplicable performance drop after the dominant opening training on Friday. “We have to look for clues again this weekend between Friday and Saturday: Where were we wrong and wrong, where right? There will be a lot of discussions about what we can learn from this weekend, ”says Wolff.
The Mercedes sports director has already identified a possible factor: “We noticed on Friday that we were touching down heavily here with the bumps, that’s why we decided to go up a bit with the car.”
The question remains, what will happen in the most exciting World Cup duel in years? World Champion Hamilton fears: “The next two tracks are Red Bull tracks. Maybe a bit of bad weather will help us. ”Team boss Wolff doesn’t think much of such prognoses anymore:“ I don’t really think there is a specific scheme of who is how good on which track. Now we just have to push, move from session to session and bring together all our strengths in order to win. Now every race counts. “
At Red Bull they are looking even more confidently to the upcoming World Cup races: “Mexico and Brazil can be very good for us. But we have to wait, the difference is currently only in the small details, ”says Verstappen after his eighth win of the season. Marko adds: “In terms of altitude, we have an advantage there with our turbo.”
The Austrian also does the math: “We always said: We have to win ten races. If the next two go well, we can go to the Middle East a little more relaxed. ”
Especially since, according to Marko, Red Bull is currently above target: “To be honest, we feared that we would leave Sochi, Turkey and Austin behind. Now it’s twelve points ahead. That gives us courage. “
The World Cup duel Verstappen against Hamilton – it remains mega-exciting.