Lewis Hamilton insisted he’s still proud of Mercedes‘ efforts at the 2023 United States Grand Prix, despite being disqualified from his podium finish behind Max Verstappen.
Hamilton was the closest he’s been to a win all season – finishing just two seconds behind the Dutchman – but that all went up in smoke in post-race scrutineering when his floor plank was found to have worn too thin.
Polesitter Charles Leclerc was also disqualified for the same issue, but Verstappen and third-placed Lando Norris were also inspected and found to be within the legal limit for wear.
“It is of course disappointing to be disqualified post-race but that doesn’t take away from the progress we’ve made this weekend,” Hamilton said. “I came here in the mood to fight hard, felt great and I’m really happy with my performance.
“Congratulations to Max and Red Bull, they’ve 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.”
Mercedes can take heart that they’re on the track with the new floor they brought to Austin proving a success – aside from the post-race disqualification – as Hamilton finished the sprint race in second and was third in both qualifying sessions.
However, it means Hamilton has failed to score a grand prix point in the last two rounds, following his collision with teammate George Russell in Qatar that ended his race at the first corner.
Ahead of the United States GP, Hamilton had admitted Mercedes still have to improve operationally if they’re to challenge Verstappen even if they have an equal car, and his win in Austin was thanks to Red Bull‘s strategy masterclass rather than dominant pace.
“Overall, we still didn’t perform optimally today,” Hamilton added. “We had good pace and I was feeling great in the car, it was tough racing those around me, but we can be happy with many things. I feel positive as we’re moving forward, even if reflecting on it we could have won today.
“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”.
Wolff echoes Hamilton’s positivity
Hamilton finished a over 50 seconds behind Verstappen at the season-opening 2023 Bahrain GP, so the initial result at the Circuit of the Americas did show how far Mercedes have come in seven months.
They arrived in Bahrain with their radical no-sidepods concept but abandoned that straight after qualifying and have been searching for a new design philosophy for the rest of the season.
The success of Mercedes‘ developments does give cause for optimism for the team, but they’ll hope it’s not a repeat of 2022 where Russell‘s Sao Paulo GP win proved to be a false dawn.
“We can take a lot of positives from the car performance today,” Russell said. “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.”