Mercedes have fewer weak links – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes have fewer “weak links” in their operation compared to their operations. The German manufacturer will set a new record as they look to score sixth consecutive drivers and constructor championship.
Hamilton, himself can officially become the sports most successful driver if he finishes ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in Austin this weekend. The win in Mexico City represented a triumph of strategy for team and driver, with Ferrari and Red Bull having appeared faster than Mercedes all weekend.
Hamilton was also without long-time race engineer Peter Bonnington for the first of two races in Mexico City. Speaking to Sky Sports, the Englishman said, “Bono is here in spirit and Marcus [Dudley] has done a fantastic job with Dom [Riefstahl].”
“Fantastic job and that just shows how much strength in depth we have through all our people that we work with in the team. There’s not one weak link in our team and that’s why we are winning world titles.”
“We are fighting against other good teams, but they have weak links and they make a lot more mistakes than we do.” Following an eighty-second deficit in last years race, Mercedes had played down their chances of victory believing the characteristics of their car are not best suited.
Yet despite being outpaced by both Ferrari and Red Bull in qualifying, F1’s world champion team and driver were able to impressively turn the tables. Following his first podium in Mexico since 2016, he admitted the team stayed cool despite not having great race pace.
He knows this weekend he can clinch a sixth world title with eighth or higher in Austin.
Mercedes got lucky – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel feels Mercedes “got lucky” with their strategy, conceding they were faster in the Mexican Grand Prix following Lewis Hamilton’s victory.
Ferrari locked out the front row following Max Verstappen’s grid penalty, but the German finished second after Hamilton managed a forty-seven lap stint on the tyres. His teammate Charles Leclerc was fourth after a two-stop strategy hindered by a slow second stop.
Vettel felt Mercedes had been “brave” pitting Hamilton 14 laps earlier than him and not coming in again, but said Ferrari did not have the race pace to truly hunt the Briton for victory once behind.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the German said, “If you start on the front row you are fighting for victory. In the end, we sort of did, but not quite enough. Ultimately, if you are fair, we didn’t have the speed really to force the victory despite the strategy.”
“With hindsight, you are always a bit smarter, Lewis obviously had nothing to lose so he might as well try and it worked for him. We expected the tyres to hit a cliff sort of, but for him, it was fine seeing that Valtteri stayed out so long was confirmation that for them it was a huge risk.”
Vettel says that Ferrari are taking risks but there is no point being risky, and the strategy could have gone either way. Team principal Mattia Binotto felt they could not have gambled in the way Mercedes had but conceded their mistake had not been considering the one-stop as an option.
He said, “I think what we did was right, but now looking back at the race I think our mistake was not to consider the one-stop possible or such an early one stop.”
“But that’s the sort of gamble you can do when you are behind, it’s not the type of gamble you will do when you’re ahead.” Binotto says that they made the right choice for the team.
Verstappen’s comments didn’t spark an investigation
The FIA confirmed on Monday that the penalty that cost Max Verstappen pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix continued after the race had concluded at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The Red Bull driver started from fourth after the stewards awarded him a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Q3, following Valtteri Bottas’s crash at the final corner.
The yellow flag regulations, drivers must “reduce their speed and be prepared to change direction,” and “it must be clear that a driver has reduced speed and, in order for this to be clear, a driver would be expected to have braked earlier and/or discernibly reduced speed in the relevant marshalling sector.”
The stewards decided Verstappen had not done this but, speaking on Sunday evening, the Red Bull driver felt that was a double standard. He told ESPN, “The rule is very clear The only thing I want to say about it from my side is, because there were a lot of comments about it, and looking back, for sure I should’ve lifted, but then everybody should do the same.”
“I know Seb did the same, but one silver [Mercedes] car didn’t. And then he doesn’t get a penalty, and that annoys me as well. But it is what it is. I can’t decide for other drivers about the rules.”
There has been speculation after the incident that the investigation had been triggered by Verstappen’s comments in the post-qualifying press conference.
When Verstappen confirmed he knew he was approaching a crashed car, he was asked if he had slowed down. At that, he smirked and said: “It didn’t really look like it did it? No.”
Asked why he didn’t back off, Verstappen added: “It doesn’t matter does it?”
When asked whether he had driven in an unsafe manner, he said, “Do we have to go there? To safety? I think we know what we are doing, otherwise, we would not be driving an F1 car. It’s qualifying and, yeah, you go for it. But like I said before if they want to delete the lap, then delete the lap.”
Asked if Verstappen would have been investigated regardless of what he had said, Masi replied: “100 percent.”
He explained that the reason for the delay was the accident, and that Bottas was the priority and the gathering of the evidence took time as well as repairing the circuit.
Masi went on to confirm that the severity and location of Bottas’ accident had affected the situation as it severed the sensors at the marshal posts, which would have allowed yellow flags to be activated on the LED boards around the circuit and in the cockpit of any car approaching the area.
McLaren’s disappointing Mexico
Carlos Sainz hopes that’s McLaren’s disappointing Mexican GP will be a “one-off” after F1’s leading midfield team suffered a baffling loss of pace, and a botched Lando Norris’ pit-stop.
The Spaniard started seventh and made his way to fourth early on, before dropping well behind his rivals following his rivals following his first pit-stop onto hard tyres, and finished down in thirteenth.
Sainz told Sky Sports, “It was incredible how much we struggled on the hard tyre after making the softs last pretty well, and making such a good start. We just went backwards. It just the mid-part of the race that killed our race basically. The car felt quite strange today.”
For McLaren who is best of the rest in both the drivers and constructors, the race was a rare blip. Sainz believes that it’s a one-off, and that they need to learn from races where they struggle and why that fluctuates race to race.
Adding “We need to keep pushing because up until Lap 15 of the race we were dominating again.”
Norris was running well before the pit-stop ruined his race, after his front wheel was not fitted properly. The Bristolian had to be pushed back to the garage to restart the process. After that disastrous stop, Norris was a lap down on the field and McLaren later retired the car.
He added “It was frustrating because we were in a good position and we could have had good points today. For myself and Carlos it didn’t turn out too well, so a frustrating day for the team. Everything was going well until the pit-stop.”
Kvyat upset with Mexico
Daniil Kvyat was “very upset” with the penalty he was awarded in the Mexican Grand Prix, accusing the stewards of “killing the sport.” The Toro Rosso nudged the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg into the barriers while trying to overtake the German for ninth place down the inside Turn 16 on the final lap of the race.
He took the chequered flag in ninth place, but was demoted to 11th by a swift post-race penalty, with teammate Pierre Gasly and Hulkenberg the beneficiaries. Following the race, he told reporters that he felt that it was a violation of the policy to let drivers race and cut down on penalties awarded as a result of wheel-to-wheel combat.
“I don’t want to say too much, because I am still very upset about it, and I strongly as a racing driver disagrees with it, because they told us we can race, we are allowed to race,” Kvyat said.
“Obviously Nico was defending, I was attacking and there was a clash, but you know, these things happen, especially [at the] last corner of last lap.”
“I think people like to see some racing, and if we get penalised for it… they just kill the sport like this, and yeah, I don’t like what stewards do sometimes.”
The Russian has been a outspoken critic of stewarding in the past, labelling the process “a stupid circus” back in 2017.
Ask for his opinion on the clash, race director Michael Masi said the stewards had indicated that the incident “could not have been more black and white”.
Hulkenberg finished the race with a damaged car and in tenth place, saying he couldn’t fault Kvyat for trying a move, but believed it was clear his rival was in the wrong.
“Whilst obviously he is guilty, I left him plenty of space, but he does give me a little push on the rear tyre and that’s all it takes to spin a car around,” Hulkenberg said