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Wolff defends Hamilton United States GP strategy

Mercedes came close to taking its first win of the season at the Circuit of the Americas.

Hamilton US
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Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff has defended his team's strategy at the United States Grand Prix following its narrow defeat to Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton chased Verstappen in the closing stages of the race at the Circuit of the Americas, equipped with the Medium compound while Verstappen ran the Hard.

Mercedes originally planned to do a one-stop strategy and kept Hamilton on the circuit later than his rivals during the first round of pit stops.

But his first set of Medium tyres dropped away unexpectedly, forcing Mercedes to pit the seven-time World Champion for Hard tyres despite knowing it would drop him behind Verstappen and compromise its ideal plan.

Hamilton recovered the lost time in the strategy by closing in on Verstappen at the end after switching back to the Mediums but ran out of laps to launch an attack.

“Hindsight is a tough thing because you can say we could have covered Max, we had the quicker car at that stage but we didn't know,” Wolff told Sky F1.

“So dragging it out to a one-stop was a valid thing at that stage but then we lost so much time over two laps and that's what lost us the race.

“We were on lap 19 or 20 and we needed to extend until 23 to make the one-stop stick. Max stopped for a clear two [stop strategy] and we knew we just needed four more laps with a one-stop.

“He was 20 seconds behind us and then the tyre just dropped and we lost the gap.”

Norris defence 'fair'

In the latter stages, Hamilton closed in on Lando Norris for second place who was struggling on the Hard compound and found himself stuck behind the McLaren driver for several corners before launching an attack at Turn 1.

Norris defended aggressively but didn't have the grip to keep Hamilton behind.

“That lap was two seconds slower than the previous one the one the one after,” said Wolff.

“But then you expect the defending and with Ricciardo [who pitted for Soft tyres for the fastest lap attempt] it was a second and a half. But fair do's.”

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