Mercedes says it could have stopped Lewis Hamilton earlier at Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix but was wary of its tyre life for later stints in the race.
Hamilton gained the lead of the race on the opening lap last Sunday, overtaking title rival Max Verstappen into the first corner after starting from second place.
Verstappen made his first pit stop for the Hard tyre on lap 10 of 56, while Mercedes waited until lap 13 to bring in Hamilton, dropping him behind Verstappen, who successfully completed the undercut.
Mercedes then extended Hamilton’s second stint to ensure he emerged from his second stop with tyres that were eight laps fresher than Verstappen’s.
Verstappen ultimately held onto the lead, and claimed victory, with Mercedes suggesting it could have adopted a similar strategy but was cautious over tyre life.
“Realistically the options to win the race probably boiled down to retaining the lead after the very good start Lewis made by stopping early, maybe going as early as lap eight,” said trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin.
“But given that we were struggling on the Mediums on such a short stint, we would never have been brave enough to do that, just to hold the lead, it would’ve felt like we would’ve compromised the whole race.
“I think we could’ve gone for an early stop, we could’ve made the finish but it would’ve just been a case of pull the trigger early, hope for the best and see whether Lewis can keep Max at bay.”
With just five races remaining in the 2021 season, Shovlin says Mercedes will analyse where and why it lost out around the Circuit of the Americas.
“There’s a sense of disappointment because we didn’t want to come here and concede points in both championships,” Shovlin said.
“It’s difficult for us to be happy with anything other than the races where we extend those leads. The frustration normally comes when you think we didn’t do a good enough job.
“That’s the thing we need to look at in detail now – what could we have done better to adapt the car? Are there options we could’ve taken advantage on in the strategy? And in particular, why were we so weak on that Medium?
“Max was sat right behind us in the first stint and that gave us the impression that we were significantly off the pace but then when we got onto the Hard tyres, the car was working much better and Lewis was able to push. We had a car that could race them.
“So there’s a fair bit we need to analyse, the key to this year is going to be optimising the car track to track and we just need to get our heads stuck into that job rather than worrying or being frustrated about the outcome here.”