Lewis Hamilton has called on Mercedes to go back to the drawing board after he missed out on wrapping up his fifth world championship in the United States on Sunday.
Hamilton now heads to Mexico City for next weekend’s race needing to finish only seventh to complete the job.
But before he climbs back into his Mercedes, Hamilton will reflect on a missed opportunity in Austin, Texas where his team gambled on an early pit stop.
The move backfired as Hamilton ran out of rubber, and had to stop twice, meaning he finished only third behind winner Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Importantly, the error-prone Sebastian Vettel came fourth despite spinning in a collision with Daniel Ricciardo, to prevent Hamilton from winning the title.
“It was a lesson learned for us and we’ll definitely go to the drawing board,” he said.
“We just made it so hard for ourselves. Collectively as a team we didn’t perform as well as we usually do.
“The decision to come in for the first stop was a bit of a surprise, but you can’t always get it right. We were over par. It was a double-bogey weekend.”
Ferrari’s Vettel started fifth after he was penalised for failing to slow under red flags in practice, and was out of contention for the win with just 13 corners gone.
He roared past Ricciardo, only to go too deep on his brakes at the end of the back straight and lose the position.
In a desperate attempt to regain the place, he banged wheels with Ricciardo at the right-handed Turn 13 and spun in a plume of tyre smoke.
The German fought back to finish fourth, passing Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of an action-packed race, but now has to win all of the remaining three rounds just to stand any chance of stopping Hamilton.
“I had the inside line, but then Ricciardo didn’t see me so we went side-by-side and then it was quite clear what happened,” said Vettel as he laid the blame for the collision at the Red Bull man’s door.
“He obviously tried to go around the outside, we touched wheels, and I lost the car and spun.”
Vettel added: “I am getting tired of recovery drives. I’m happy for the team and for Kimi, because he deserves to win more than anyone on the grid, but I am not happy for myself.”