Horner: Mercedes found themselves in no man's land

Horner: Mercedes found themselves in no man’s land

Horner: Mercedes found themselves in no man's land

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s boss, claimed that rivals Mercedes dug themselves into a strategy hole in the 2023 United States Grand Prix last Sunday, and couldn’t get out of.

Mercedes planned to run a one-stop strategy for the race in Austin, but realized halfway into the race that it would not be possible, and while Lewis Hamilton was catching Max Verstappen at the end of the race, he ran out of laps to have a proper go at him, maybe needing a couple more laps.

Red Bull, on the other hand, committed to a double stopper from the start and did not deviate from their plans, their reward, another race win albeit by the smallest of margins, with the RB19 not at its most dominant, not to mention the brake issues Verstappen had to drive around all race long.

“Before the race all our simulations were telling us two stop was the fastest race for us, so that’s what we committed to,” Horner told Sky Sports F1 after the race on Sunday.

“The debate was do we run the hard [tyre] in the middle stint or the medium. We knew going up against Lando that they’d committed to the two hards, so we knew going medium-medium it was crucial for Max to make use of that to get the pass done and get the track position and then run our fastest race to the end of the race,” he explained.

“I think Mercedes found themselves in no man’s land today. They sort of attempted a one [stop], aborted, and then took the better tyre, the medium tyre, for the final stint.

“But thankfully we had just enough to hold them off,” Horner maintained.

Hamilton: My guess is as good as yours

During the race, Hamilton was asked by the team if he could extend his first stint, something he was not confident of, and then he was called to the pits.

Asked why Mercedes did not pit him earlier, Hamilton told Sky: “My guess is as good as yours.

“I think we probably should have stopped before Lando because I was within undercut position. I don’t know why we didn’t.

“Then after that I came out another eight seconds behind and I had to catch up. It was really difficult to catch up and then I came out again another eight or 10 seconds behind [after the second stop]

“That deficit was so hard to catch up each time. So we’ve got some work to do,” the seven-time F1 Champion insisted.

“But, other than that, I feel really positive with how the weekend went,” he added. “The car is feeling much better, I really, really am grateful for the work that everyone’s put in back home because the floor was a step forwards.

“We need to pick up on some of the areas – like our pit stops were not spectacular this weekend, and strategy maybe – for hopefully in the next races.

“Maybe we can be closer to these [Red Bull] guys. It’s right there. It’s just there!” Hamilton concluded.

Hamilton leaves Austin still in third place, now 39 points behind second-placed Sergio Perez in the 2023 F1 Drivers Championship.