Lewis Hamilton reflects on battle against Max Verstappen with ‘handful’

Lewis Hamilton led the final stages of the United States Grand Prix following a successful undercut on Max Verstappen.

Lewis Hamilton came the closest he’s come to victory all season at Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, as the seven-time World Champion lost the race lead with just six laps remaining at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Mercedes driver who qualified fifth but started third did “everything” he possibly could to beat 2021 title rival Max Verstappen, which included, catching out the Dutchman’s Austrian team.

Hamilton’s launch off the line was actually the fastest in the field, as the Mercedes driver battled his team-mate in the run-up to Turn One.

The 103-time Grand Prix winner was left to hang around the outside of the incredibly tight corner, which worked beautifully in his favour.

READ: Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton narrowly avoid penalty at 2022 United States Grand Prix

Hamilton found himself in second by the time they exited the corner, as George Russell collided with Carlos Sainz, spinning the pole sitter around.

From then on, the 37-year-old looked comfortable in second around the circuit he’s claimed victory at five times but didn’t appear to have the pace needed to challenge Verstappen for the victory.

It resulted in Mercedes attempting an undercut, something which failed due to the gap between the 2021 rivals.

Hamilton attempted the undercut a second time, though, later in the race, where it worked an absolute treat.

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The Brit well and truly caught Red Bull off-guard, with the Mercedes driver having pitted much earlier than predicted for the second round of stops.

Hamilton inherited the race lead as a result of Verstappen having a very slow second stop, which also demoted him behind Charles Leclerc.

Verstappen quickly dismantled Leclerc and set about closing the gap to the Stevenage-born driver.

The Dutchman had superior grip over the Mercedes driver, with Verstappen having been on the Mediums, whilst Hamilton was on the Hards.

Hamilton gave it all he could, but simply couldn’t keep the rapid Red Bull behind him down the main straight.

It was easily the closest the British driver had come to victory all year, at a venue where he’s loved by what were record-breaking crowds.

Second was simply the best that was possible for Hamilton, who admitted after the race that the W13 was simply too much of a “handful”.

Hamilton also sent his condolences to his rival’s team, whose co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz sadly died on Saturday, aged 78.

READ: Images: Sebastian Vettel spotted consoling Red Bull employees

“It was so, so close and I did everything I could to try and stay ahead but they were just a little bit too quick today,” said Hamilton after the race.

“Great strategy, great race by Red Bull and again my condolences to the team.

“The car was a handful today and firstly, it felt amazing to be in the lead. That is something we have been working so hard on throughout the year and we have had so much hope.”