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“Was Game Over”: Toto Wolff Rues Lewis Hamilton & Co.’s Bad Luck as Ferrari Reaches Sniffing Distance

Published 11/19/2023, 5:59 AM EST

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Here’s how the past few races have gone for Mercedes: At the US GP, Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in P2 but was later disqualified. The Mexican GP was comparatively better, with Hamilton in P2 and George Russell in P6. A couple of weeks ago, at the Brazilian GP, was where everything went wrong for Mercedes. While it had the pace to compete in the US and Mexico, Hamilton & Co. didn’t even have that in Sao Paulo. So, coming into the Las Vegas GP, Mercedes looked to make amends. Unfortunately, things weren’t in its favor.

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The all-important Constructors’ Championship. It’s what decides how much prize money a team gets at the end of the season. Formula 1 is as much about the on-track competition as it is about money. Since the summer break, standing in Mercedes’ way to P2 is Ferrari. And the Las Vegas GP only made the Scuderia a bigger threat to Mercedes’ hold on P2.

The Las Vegas GP could’ve been better for Lewis Hamilton & Co.


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After the Brazilian debacle, everyone at Mercedes was hoping for a considerably better weekend in Vegas. The only problem was that the circuit was completely unknown to them. The good thing, though? It was an unknown to everybody. So, coming into the race, Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, the W14’s pace in Vegas was nothing like that in Sao Paulo. George Russell managed a P4 in qualifying, but Hamilton could only manage a P11. 

Had it not been for a few incidents during the race, Toto Wolff believes Mercedes wouldn’t be as at risk of losing P2 to Ferrari as it is now. “It’s frustrating to say, but today was another example of a Grand Prix where we’ve had good pace and not got the result that pace has deserved.” Russell had a collision with Max Verstappen midway through the race, for which he got a five-second penalty. Per Wolff, Once George was given the five-second time penalty, it was pretty much game over for him in terms of the podium. He definitely had the speed to challenge those at the front.”


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As for Hamilton, the Brit started in P10 but got hit by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on Lap 1. Then, he had to avoid spinning cars and, in the process, lost places. Once he almost made it to the points, he made contact with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, dropping places yet again. Wolff said, “Lewis also had contact, twice in fact, with neither his fault. His pace was strong throughout, but those two incidents cost him today.” With Hamilton and Russell finishing in P7 and P8, and the Ferrari boys finishing in P2 and P6, Ferrari is only 4 points adrift of Mercedes.

“We Were Screwed”: Oscar Piastri Highlights Lewis Hamilton Incident That Derailed Las Vegas GP Hopes

Considering there’s only one race remaining, it’s all to play for. At the Abu Dhabi GP, it’s going to be Mercedes versus Ferrari. “It’s a tight battle in the Constructors’ Championship, and we hope to be able to deliver a strong result [in Abu Dhabi],” concluded Wolff. While Wolff focused on the negatives of the weekend, Hamilton seemed pretty happy with himself after the race.

Lewis Hamilton thoroughly enjoyed Vegas and took a dig at Max Verstappen

When Formula 1 arrived in Vegas and the celebrations kicked off, Max Verstappen said it was “99% show and 1% sporting event.” He wasn’t a fan of “standing like a clown” during the opening ceremony, and neither was he a fan of the track layout. Throughout the weekend, all he did was express his dislike for the Las Vegas GP, all because he felt the racing would be subpar. But it was anything but.


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The Dutchman secured his 18th win of 2023, but it didn’t come easy. With lead changes and different strategies, it was a hard-fought win. While he was fighting for victory, Lewis Hamilton was fighting through the field. Following his recovery drive, Hamilton said, “I’m really grateful that the race was so good. It was like Baku but better. I really wasn’t expecting the track to be so great. Lots of overtaking opportunities.” Referencing Verstappen’s comments, Hamilton added, “All those who were so negative about the weekend, saying it was about the show, I think Vegas proved them wrong.”


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WATCH THIS STORY | Lewis Hamilton dismisses beef with Max Verstappen

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Written by:

Aditi Krishnan


One take at a time

"I don't know who I would've been if I didn't love sports as much as I do." I'm Aditi, and I'm a senior F1 Writer at EssentiallySports. For F1 and me, it was love at first sight back in 2020.
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Edited by:

Aishwary Gaonkar