Toto Wolff said Red Bull deserved victory in Austin, after their “bold” and “super aggressive” strategy paid off on Sunday.
Max Verstappen took a brilliant win after holding off Lewis Hamilton, the latter on much fresher tyres towards the end of the race, with the Red Bull driver extending his World Championship lead to 12 points.
After Hamilton took the lead at the start, Verstappen came in after only 10 laps of running to switch to hard tyres and, after pitting eight laps before the Mercedes driver for the final stint, it looked as though Hamilton would be able to reel in his title rival.
While he was around a second behind Verstappen, Hamilton could not quite get into striking distance and the World Championship leader held on for a vital victory.
The Mercedes team principal was magnanimous in defeat, acknowledging that the strategies in play paid off for their rivals in the end.
“I think it was some interesting strategy games and great racing,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1 after the race.
“But at the end, we thought we had a sniff at it, but it wasn’t enough. It was just, the moment you get close to the other car, it’s difficult.
“They went for a super aggressive first stop, and that was bold. We did that in Bahrain at the beginning of the year and we won, and then they covered it the second time and we thought maybe that’s enough at the end to get them, but they deserved to win today.
“We were debating about the undercut,” he added. “But lap 10 or 11 or whatever it was, was just very early. We were too slow on the medium, and therefore we didn’t think that the hard would last.”
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Hamilton was disappointed after the race, but congratulated Verstappen on a hard-fought victory afterwards, and Wolff admitted it would take a short while to digest what had happened before debriefing with his star driver.
“We haven’t talked,” said Wolff. “We have to both get over it, that’s going to take 30 minutes, it was just the car was not quick enough on the medium.”
Mercedes had looked to be the dominant car in the early stages of the weekend, having lapped around a second faster than the rest of the field in the first practice session on Friday.
Red Bull were able to claw back the deficit over the course of the weekend and seize the initiative from their rivals, to a degree where Wolff felt that Hamilton’s second-place finish was above his own expectations of the day.
“I think we started really well on Friday, and then we went a little bit off-track, and we recovered in the race,” he said.
“For us, P2 was, for me personally, better than I expected. At the end, it’s always a fine line between downforce and drag.”