2023 United States Grand Prix – Sunday
2023 United States Grand Prix – Sunday
Strong podium finish taken away after Lewis challenged for victory at the Circuit of the Americas
Lewis Hamilton finished second but was later disqualified from Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, while George Russell came home seventh but was ultimately classified fifth.
Starting third and fifth respectively, both drivers suffered difficult starts with Lewis dropping to fourth and George to eighth.
They both began to fight back quickly though, and Lewis moved up to P2 behind the McLaren of Lando Norris in the early stages.
Max Verstappen, in P3 at that stage, triggered the first round of pitstops. With both the one and the two-stop looking viable, both Lewis and George stayed out on track for a few laps longer and ceded track position to several runners – but their tyres soon dropped off too much, forcing them to commit to a two-stop strategy.
Running on the Hard tyre, Lewis began to close again on Norris and Verstappen before taking the Medium tyre for his final stint.
He utilised the tyre offset to the Hard-shod McLaren and the Red Bull to pass Norris and set off after Verstappen, falling less than two seconds short of victory at the flag.
George ran a similar strategy; he closed within a few tenths of the Ferrari of Leclerc in the final stages but had to settle for P7 across the line.
Post-race checks showed the plank wear levels on Lewis’ car were beyond the allowed limit and he was subsequently, along with the Ferrari of Leclerc, disqualified.
As the team heads to Mexico, the gap to Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship is now 22 points.
Firstly, congratulations to Max and Red Bull. They have done an incredible job all year long, they’ve dominated and been nearly flawless. We were catching them towards the end, though. I was hopeful that I could, but I just need a couple of more laps. There has been so much work to bring this upgrade here and it was difficult after the last race in Qatar. I really felt like I let the team down, so I had to go through such a deep process to get myself back to here. It’s one of those experiences of “it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up”. I came here in the mood to fight hard, felt great and I’m really happy with my performance. Overall, we still didn’t perform optimally today. We had good pace and I was feeling great in the car. It was tough racing those around me as they were so quick, but we can be happy with many things. I feel positive as we’re moving forward, even if reflecting on it we could have possibly won today. It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend.
The race start really cost me today. I lost three positions and then, and I don’t know why, when we put the Hard tyre on, I was massively off the pace. I had to manage the lift and coast too and I was just dropping like a stone. When we put the Medium tyre on, suddenly we were amongst the quickest cars on the track. I closed over 10 seconds on Max (Verstappen) in that final stint. It’s disappointing when I definitely felt that there was the potential to fight for a podium. The positive is that the car has improved. We have full focus on 2024 but we also know that the upcoming weekends should suit us more than here. We need to wait and see how we get on there. It’s been a scrappy weekend for me but I’m feeling excited and motivated for the final four races of the year.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal & CEO
We can take a lot of positives from the car performance today. We hate coming so close to winning and falling short. But this is a circuit where only a few races ago we wouldn’t have performed well because of the fast, sweeping corners. The upgrade seems to have made the car happier in those areas and it is working well. Directionally, it’s a very good sign. Turning to the race result and the disqualification, set-up choices on a sprint weekend are always a challenge with just one hour of free practice – and even more so at a bumpy circuit like COTA and running a new package. In the end, all of that doesn’t matter; others got it right where we got it wrong and there’s no wiggle room in the rules. We need to take it on the chin, do the learning, and come back stronger next weekend.
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
We are of course naturally very disappointed to lose our podium finish. Unfortunately, it is one of the pitfalls of the sprint format where we have a solitary hour of running before parc fermé. Without running at a race fuel load in FP1, combined with a circuit as bumpy as this and the parts of the track where the drivers have to put the car during the Grand Prix, have contributed to the higher than expected wear levels. We will go away and learn from this but also take the positives from our experience as a whole. Lewis had a very strong weekend, and it was exciting to see him closing in first on Lando and then Max, with a shot of winning the race. Unfortunately, we ran out of laps. In hindsight, it is easy to say that we should have covered Verstappen in the first round of stops. However, at the time the one-stop strategy still looked viable. If it had worked out, that would have put us in a very strong position to win. As always, we will analyse the race in the calm of the factory to see if a different strategy would have given us a better chance of the win. George had a lonelier race, suffering in the middle stint on the Hard tyre as he was having to save fuel. That contributed to the tyres not being at their optimum. He was much happier once on the Medium tyre in the final stint. He can take some encouragement from this for the remaining races. We can afford to be cautiously optimistic that the step we have made will translate into future race. Both drivers felt the improvement and it is positive for our development trajectory for 2024. Whilst we are disappointed with the ultimate outcome today, we can be encouraged by the pace shown.
Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team