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Wolff: ‘Hindsight is a tough thing’ after strategy indecision costs Hamilton F1 win

Lewis Hamilton could have taken his first F1 win in almost two years had it not been for Mercedes getting torn between pitstop strategies at the United States Grand Prix

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Following the US Grand Prix, Toto Wolff explained the decision-making at Mercedes that led to Lewis Hamilton falling short of victory in Austin.

Hamilton Mercedes Wolff F1 US GP COTA
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his last United States Grand Prix win with the late Niki Lauda. (Image Credit: @MercedesAMGF1 on X)

The seven-time F1 world champion finished P2 at Circuit of the Americas for the fourth consecutive time but could have taken his first win there since 2017.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 following the race, his boss at Mercedes defended the team’s decision to opt for a one-stop strategy, which they had to pivot from in favour of the quicker two-stopper. Being caught between those options cost Hamilton the win.

“You know, the hindsight is a tough thing,” the 51-year-old began, when asked if Mercedes could have made a different strategy call.

“You can say, ‘if you would have covered Max [Verstappen], we had the quicker car at that stage, but we didn’t know. So, dragging it out to a one-stop was a valid thing at that stage.

“But then we lost so much time over two laps – that’s what lost the race.”

Expanding on the decision-making process within the team during the critical part of the grand prix, Wolff explained how close the Mercedes were to being able to make their original strategy work.

“We were on lap 19 or 20, and we needed to extend them [the tyres] to [lap] 23 to make the one-stop stick.

“So, Max {Verstappen] stops, for clear two stops, and we knew we needed just four more laps for the with a one-stop and he was 30 seconds behind us, and then the tyre just dropped, and we lost the gap.”

Two-stopping again prevails at COTA

Red Bull made no attempt to hide their two-stop strategy, with their lead driver running two sets of medium tyres to start the race, before finishing on the hard compound.

With Mercedes realising Hamilton wouldn’t make it to the end with just one stop, they brought him in on lap 38 for a second set of yellow-walled mediums.

Whilst able to work his way back through, he lost critical time behind other cars. Jenson Button highlighted Hamilton’s fight with Lando Norris to Wolff, who he’d called “feisty”.

“That lap was two seconds slower than the previous one and the one after”, he revealed.

“But then you expect defending. With Ricciardo [who was one lap down] it was a second, second and half, but you know, fair view.”

Ultimately, Verstappen was able to hold off Hamilton by just over two seconds, despite brake issues, to take victory at COTA – his 50th grand prix win.

The recently crowned triple world champ joins an elite and exclusive club of F1 drivers to reach the half-century mark, along with Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost.

Featured Image Credit: @MercedesAMGF1 on X

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