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Mexico City GP: Lewis Hamilton questions Mercedes strategy as team-mate George Russell reflects on first-lap battle

Lewis Hamilton finished second behind Max Verstappen at the Mexico City GP after Red Bull found a more efficient strategy than Mercedes; Hamilton says Mercedes made an error by starting on medium rather than soft tyres; George Russell reflects on first lap battle with team-mate Hamilton

Last Updated: 31/10/22 6:10am


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Lewis Hamilton believes he could have provided more of a challenge to Max Verstappen for the win had he started on the soft tyres at the beginning of the race in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton believes he could have provided more of a challenge to Max Verstappen for the win had he started on the soft tyres at the beginning of the race in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton bemoaned Mercedes’ decision not to split his and team-mate George Russell’s strategies, after finishing second to Max Verstappen at the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Pole-sitter Verstappen and his team-mate Perez, along with most of the grid, started on soft tyres at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday, while both Hamilton and Russell began on mediums.

Hamilton, who started third, overtook team-mate Russell on the opening lap to enhance his chances of a first victory of the season, but the surprising life of the medium tyre Mercedes had started on ultimately played into Red Bull’s hands.

Verstappen, appearing to be on a two-stop strategy, stopped on lap 26 for mediums, but the tyres held up better than expected and carried him through to the end of the 71-lap race for a comfortable victory.

Hamilton, meanwhile, could not risk putting on softs – that would likely not have lasted until the end – with his sole pit stop five laps later, and put on harder tyres on which he was unable to remain close to Verstappen.

Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

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Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Highlights of the Mexico City Grand Prix from the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Asked by Sky Sports F1 whether the race could have turned out differently if he had have started on softs, Hamilton said: “I think so.

“When I was on the medium tyres there wasn’t really any degradation when they pulled me in, so I think ultimately we should have been on the softs.

“It’s something that I had asked and questioned. I thought maybe one of us, the two Mercedes, should have a soft to be able to attack.

“When both Red Bulls, and everyone behind, took their tyres off and had softs, I thought ‘shoot’.”

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez took the top three spots at the Mexico City Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez took the top three spots at the Mexico City Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez took the top three spots at the Mexico City Grand Prix

Despite the disappointment of missing out on victory, the Mexico City GP represented Mercedes’ most cohesive weekend of the season, as they were competitive at all stages, and comfortably outperformed Ferrari.

“It may be a loss for us today but still this is good points,” Hamilton added.

“[There are] so many positives [to take]. The upgrade really, really worked in the last race.

“We still have improvements to make, which we probably won’t make in the rest of this year, but we know exactly where we need to improve for next year.”

Russell: I’d have ran anyone else off the road

Red Bull's Max Verstappen remained out in front on the first lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes team-mate George Russell for second

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen remained out in front on the first lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes team-mate George Russell for second

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen remained out in front on the first lap of the Mexico City Grand Prix, while Lewis Hamilton overtook Mercedes team-mate George Russell for second

A frantic opening lap saw Russell drop from his starting position of second to fourth, as he was forced off track in a battle with Hamilton, before consequently losing another place to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

The poor start scuppered Russell’s hopes of a podium, extending his streak off the rostrum to four races.

The 24-year-old, who has enjoyed a hugely impressive debut season at Mercedes, suggested he might have taken a different approach to the first lap had he not have been battling Hamilton, who he leads by 15 points in the drivers’ championship.

“I think the last four races for me have been probably scrappy and going into turn one, I knew I wouldn’t be able to overtake Max around the outside,” Russell said.

Toto Wolff and George Russell look ahead to Brazil, where Mercedes will be hoping to eat into the 40 point gap between themselves and Ferrari in the constructors' championship

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Toto Wolff and George Russell look ahead to Brazil, where Mercedes will be hoping to eat into the 40 point gap between themselves and Ferrari in the constructors’ championship

Toto Wolff and George Russell look ahead to Brazil, where Mercedes will be hoping to eat into the 40 point gap between themselves and Ferrari in the constructors’ championship

“And then when I had Lewis there, probably if it was anyone else but my team-mate, I’d have just ran him off the road.”

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff later said the team had got it wrong with their tyre strategy, admitting Red Bull’s eventual running plan “wasn’t even on the radar”.

“We didn’t think that the medium would go to the end,” Wolff said. “So we just got it wrong.

“We discussed whether the soft and the hard was a viable one stop strategy and we thought it was never going to go so soft medium wasn’t even on the radar.”



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