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Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of blaming his Mercedes team after their strategy at the US Grand Prix meant he was unable to close out his fifth world championship. The British driver is still in a commanding position to take the title and insisted he would regroup with the team to ensure they were in the best possible position to finish the job at the next round in Mexico this weekend.
The race in Austin was won by Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, with Hamilton ending up third behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Sebastian Vettel’s fourth ensured the title fight continued, with the German trailing by 70 points with only three rounds – and a maximum 75 points – remaining.

Hamilton was beaten off the line by Räikkönen and then Mercedes opted to use a two-stop strategy, hoping to pass the Finn, who was one-stopping, in the final stages. However Räikkönen skilfully held Hamilton up and Mercedes kept the British driver out too long while he also lost time to traffic and due to his tyres blistering. Mercedes’s team principal, Toto Wolff, admitted “we were probably a lap too late pitting Lewis as his tyres really dropped off.”

After Hamilton’s second stop he emerged behind Verstappen and, despite a charge, was unable to make any progress against the two leaders.

“There are a lot of things that we could have done better on Sunday,” Hamilton said. “There were certain things that weren’t optimum for us, which made it look worse than it was.”

However, the 33-year-old insisted the setback would act as an incentive rather than provoke a descent into finger-pointing.

“We will go back to the drawing board; that’s why we’re the best as a team,” he said. “Because no one is to blame, we all take the blame together, we all kick ourselves up the backside and realise we have to keep working and keep pushing. I know the guys will do great analysis from this weekend for the next couple of days and I know we will come back strong in the next race.”

Seventh place or better next weekend in Mexico will ensure Hamilton wins his fifth title to equal Juan Manuel Fangio. But he was taking nothing for granted and emphasised that Mercedes needed to address why they had been unable to match the Ferraris’ race pace at the Circuit of the Americas.

“We didn’t have great pace and we had worse tyre usage than everyone else, which is rarely the case,” he said. “So I think we were forced into a two-stop for certain things we had that were not ideal with the car. We didn’t know that was going to be the case when we went into the race but it was a real struggle. The car was a real handful.”
Hamilton admitted it was a combination of factors that proved costly, beyond the team’s strategy. “They gained some pace but we had lost some, I’ve asked them to try and find out why but there is more on top of that,” he said. “There was debris and some damage on the floor, all these things add up through the race. Then we had another problem but we don’t know how much time that cost.” He declined to elaborate on what the specific other issue with the car had been.

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