Hamilton says he ‘gave it absolutely everything’, but unable to explain loss of pace in Mexico defeat
It was a case of mixed emotions for Lewis Hamilton after finishing second in the Mexico City Grand Prix, the Mercedes driver doing a fine job to hold off the faster Sergio Perez in the closing stages but at a loss to explain why the Silver Arrows could not challenge his title rival Max Verstappen for the victory.
Mercedes pulled out a shock front row lock-out in qualifying and Hamilton made an impressive getaway, so good in fact that he was side by side with team mate and pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas heading to the first corner. However, Verstappen got in Bottas’ tow, moved to the outside and was able to brake later and pass them both for the lead.
“I had envisaged it differently naturally in the sense that Valtteri maybe got a better start and I would have tried to get into his tow but obviously I was alongside him which was good.
"I was covering my side of the track making sure that no one could come up the inside so was trying to keep whichever Red Bull I could see in my mirror behind,” he said. “I thought Valtteri would be doing the same but he left the door open for Max. Max was on the racing line so did a mega job braking for Turn 1 and I was on the inside on the dirt and there was no hope for me.”
From there, Hamilton was unable to challenge Verstappen and then came under pressure from Perez, on fresher tyres having stopped later, but made his car wide enough to hold onto second and minimise the damage to 19 points to his Red Bull rival in the championship.
“Their car was far superior this weekend and there was nothing we really could do about it,” said Hamilton. “I gave it absolutely everything and even obviously a great fight with Sergio at the end, but I'm really grateful I was able to at least get a second.
“I feel positive in the sense that I had a good race. I did it with the car that I had and the car was not good today.
“When you have Sergio behind you pushing you like that, you know the car is fast, so you know, I’m glad I was able to keep at least those two apart in terms of getting one-two for the team and we want to keep fighting.”
He added: “They’ve had the fastest car most of the year so it’s not a surprise. I wish we were quicker this weekend but today we were a long way off, so I don’t really understand that, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and try and come back next week stronger.”
F1 now heads straight to Brazil, with Hamilton uncertain how strong Red Bull – who are now just one point behind Mercedes in the constructors’ championship – will be at Interlagos, which is the second highest race above sea level.
“There’s still four races, 19 points is a lot of points and that’s his ninth win [of the year] so he’s [Verstappen] had a lot of wins this year,” he said. “With their superior speed [in Mexico], if they were to carry them into the next ones then we may be in trouble, or we will be in trouble, but I don’t know if they’ll be using that huge wing they had on today, but naturally we’ll find out when we get there. But I hope we’re closer.”