Jolyon Palmer has praised Lewis Hamilton's dogged pursuit of Max Verstappen in the United States, saying that his relentless pressure forced Red Bull into producing an inch-perfect race in order to beat him.
After leading the race at the Circuit of the Americas until the first round of pit-stops, Hamilton fell behind Verstappen and kept up relentless pressure on the Red Bull driver as the Mercedes appeared to enjoy the Hard compound tyres more than Verstappen did.
Not putting a wheel wrong over the course of the 56-lap encounter, Verstappen and Red Bull produced the perfect race that Hamilton's pressure commanded, and Palmer praised both sides for their efforts.
"Maybe this was a race that Hamilton simply couldn't win," Palmer wrote in his post-race column for Formula1.com.
"Given [that] Red Bull had the faster car, but with Hamilton driving the wheels off the Mercedes as usual, it still needed a perfectly-executed race from Red Bull to stop him and that's what they provided.
"Once Hamilton was undercut at the first stop, Red Bull took the race out of Mercedes' hands, by pre-empting their second stop and pitting early.
"Even then it was exceptionally close, but the management of the race by Verstappen was sublime and meant that he had enough tyres left, so that Hamilton couldn't quite get close enough to launch a proper offensive."
Palmer admitted that he thought the United States Grand Prix would favour Mercedes, but that Red Bull's command of the race has meant momentum is back with the Milton Keynes-based team.
"I thought Austin might favour Mercedes, especially given Hamilton's previous form at the circuit, and Mercedes' strong pace since the summer break, but the fact that Red Bull could still win, even when Hamilton was driving at his very best, will give them an enormous boost heading to a circuit they've always been strong at.
"Verstappen was downbeat after Turkey, thinking that Mercedes might be picking up momentum. In one fell swoop he has turned it on its head.
"With a perfect drive, Verstappen has just cemented himself as favourite once more, and if he were to go on and win the title this year, a race like Austin might be looked back on as a champion's drive.
"Even with the momentum, though, there is no let-up."
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