Lewis Hamilton rues Red Bull's 'upper hand' as Max Verstappen lays down gauntlet at US GP

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Lewis Hamilton admits Mercedes had one of their toughest races during the United States Grand Prix, as the seven-time world champion had to settle for a second-place finish in Austin, handing race winner Max Verstappen a 12-point lead heading to Mexico City in two weeks’ time.

Despite Hamilton grabbing the lead early on from the polesitter Verstappen, Red Bull crucially pitted the 24-year-old earlier than Hamilton during their first stint for a fresh pair of hard tyres, with Mercedes opting to bring Hamilton in a few laps later.

Red Bull opted for a similar tactic during the second pit-stop window too, as Verstappen and Red Bull chose to blink first again, which could have handed the advantage to Hamilton, who could then pit later and have fresher tyres come the end of the race.

But despite a strong and ferocious fightback, the 36-year-old ran out of laps and ultimately had to settle for second in front of a huge American crowd at the Circuit of the Americas.

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Mercedes ‘not in a good situation’ in Hamilton vs Verstappen fight

Lewis Hamilton rues Red Bull's 'upper hand' as Max Verstappen lays down gauntlet at US GP
© GETTY Lewis Hamilton

After the race, Hamilton said: “Firstly, congratulations to Max he did a great job today.

“It was such a, such a tough race, got a good start, gave it absolutely everything but at the end of the day they just had the upper hand this weekend, and we couldn’t really ask for more, but a big, big thank you to my team for great pitstops great hard work throughout the weekend.

“And what an amazing crowd, to perform in front of you guys, it’s such an honour.”

Fans poured into the circuit in Texas, after a gap in the calendar last season due to Covid restrictions, but Hamilton acknowledged what an atmosphere they had in front of them.

“I think this is definitely our acceptance into the US,” continued Hamilton.

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“It’s an honor to be out here and I hope we can get more races here and that the sport continues to grow.”

Verstappen now has a 12-point lead in the standings after taking 25 points for the victory in Austin, with Red Bull edging closer to their first title since 2013.

After the race he said: “Of course we lost out in the start so we had to try and do something else.

Lewis Hamilton rues Red Bull's 'upper hand' as Max Verstappen lays down gauntlet at US GP
© EXPRESS

“The tyre wear is quite high around this track so we went aggressive and I wasn’t sure it was going to work.

“The last few laps were tough. I was a bit sideways through the high-speed corners but super happy of course to hang on.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was struggling with a cold all weekend, finished third, admitting he had a tough race due to a broken water system: “Since lap one I ran out of water so could not drink at all.

“By the middle of the second stint it was starting to get difficult, I was losing strength. It was my toughest race physically.”

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