Toto Wolff has said that small errors and strokes of luck throughout the race prevented Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton from having a shot at snatching victory from Max Verstappen in the 2023 United States GP.
Hamilton was agonisingly close to chasing down the Red Bull in the final laps at the Circuit of the Americas, but ran out of time to have a chance at an overtake even with Verstappen struggling with brake issues.
Despite two slow stops and a poor strategy call early on which put the Brit on the back foot, he crossed the line just 2.225 seconds behind Verstappen, and Wolff admitted that with hindsight a different approach could have yielded a first win of the season.
“I think the car was quick, Lewis drove fantastically,” Wolff told the press. “If I count all the things that went against us, you could see maybe we we could have gone for two stop and just cover him.
“I think both stops were not great. But it’s an equipment topic and not a human. And and then we lost two seconds behind Norris and and probably second and a half behind Ricciardo.
“But, you know, for us, this is how we race and at the end, it wasn’t sufficient. So no blame.”
Verstappen has been dominant throughout 2023, and won at COTA despite starting the race from sixth after his final lap in qualifying, which would have taken pole position ahead of the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, after exceeding track limits and having the time deleted.
And Wolff said that the Dutchman’s impeccable form throughout the year had probably influenced Mercedes’ decision making during the race.
“It certainly played a role that we believed if we were on the same strategy like Max, cover him be a few seconds ahead of him, that would not be enough to win the race,” Wolff said.
“And that’s okay, they have been dominating all year. So that’s a bit of a mindset you take into such a decision.
“With the one stop, we felt we could win, or there were bigger chances to win. And at the end, the performance was not as good as we thought.”