Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes believe he would have been in contention to finish on the podium had he not been involved in two collisions during the race.
The Mercedes driver was involved in the multi-car tangle at the beginning of the race which dropped him further back from his 10th place starting position. He made gains from there but suffered another setback when he tangled with Oscar Piastri and sustained a puncture.
He eventually finished seventh, but admitted he had the pace to finish much higher up.
“I had no idea what would be possible,” said Hamilton after the race. “I’m grateful to get a couple of points at least. But would have been a podium for sure.”
Hamilton was classified one place ahead of his team mate George Russell, who finished fourth on the road but was demoted to eighth place by a five-second time penalty for a collision with Max Verstappen.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said their cars were quick enough to score better results but both drivers were compromised by incidents. “Lewis got hit twice and George had a mistake,” he said.
“That race summarises our season,” Wolff explained. “A quick car that is able to fight for a podium – Lewis was doing Leclerc’s times as well in free air.
“But then obviously he was involved in two accidents, and then George with Max, [so] you can’t win, you can’t be in the front.”
Mercedes’ points advantage over Ferrari in the fight for second place in the constructors championship was almost eradicated in Las Vegas. Ferrari lie just four points behind them going into next weekend’s season finale at Yas Marina.
The situation reminded Wolff of Hamilton’s controversial championship defeat to Verstappen at the circuit two years earlier, though he indicated the outcome of this contest doesn’t matter as much to him.
“I think we’re going there pretty much equal on points,” said Wolff. “With a proper race director, so that should be fine.
“And then let’s race. It’s all down to the last weekend. They are very quick and done a good job. I think we could have been on par today. But the result shows something different. So let’s race.
“To be honest it’s good to have P2 as a positive to finish the season but P2, P3 for me there is little… it doesn’t make me particularly cheer any way.”
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