Lewis Hamilton hopes that the Las Vegas Strip Circuit not being “the most technical of circuits” will help Mercedes overcome the set-up woes it encountered in Brazil.

Mercedes endured a torrid weekend last time out at Interlagos, with Hamilton slipping to eighth and team-mate George Russell retiring amid engine temperature concerns.

Both drivers suffered from excessive tyre degradation as a result of a compromised set-up choice that left their W14 car sliding in the corners and vulnerable on the straights.

Hamilton admits that he “knew exactly what it was already” when asked ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix whether Mercedes understood the root cause of its issues.

Prior to its surprise slump in Brazil, the German marque had been sustaining an encouraging late-season run, with Hamilton chasing Max Verstappen for victory in the United States before being disqualified for a technical infringement. The Briton then also ended up in second place in Mexico City.

Hamilton concurred with the assessment of Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff that the Sao Paulo Grand Prix represented the Brackley side’s “worst weekend in 13 years”.

“Yeah, it definitely felt like one of the worst,” Hamilton confirmed. “But we just got the car in the wrong place. There is potential, obviously, in the car. We had two really great races before. We just had it in the wrong window, and that’s on all of us.

“But we’ve learned from it and experiences like that, you learn more than the loss, you know. It’s painful for everybody. But everybody’s recovered. We were back in the factory the next week. Everyone’s massively motivated to finish off strong this season. And I have no doubts that we can.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 03.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Qualifying Day.

F1’s return to Las Vegas for the first time in 41 years will provide the teams and drivers with an entirely different challenge to the one imposed on them in Brazil a fortnight ago.

Aside from substantially colder temperatures, the Las Vegas track predominantly comprises long straights, including a 1.9km blast down the famous Strip, and tight, slow-speed corners, marking a complete contrast to the flowing sequence of turns that make up the lap of Interlagos.

Although Hamilton is wary the straights could expose his Mercedes car’s persistent problem with drag, the seven-time World Champion is optimistic the team won’t experience the same set-up conundrum on a less technically demanding circuit layout.

Asked how confident he felt coming into the Vegas weekend, Hamilton answered: “Definitely more than the last one.

“Still, I think it’s going to be a challenge and getting the tyres working this weekend and we’re often not necessarily the quickest on the straights, so that’ll be a challenge to see if we can not lose too much on the straights but keep up with everyone in the corners.

“But it’s not the most technical of circuits. So hopefully, that makes it a little bit easier.”

Mercedes’ unexpected troubles coupled with Sergio Perez’s fourth place in Brazil has left Hamilton 32 points behind the Mexican in the standings with two rounds remaining.

However, Hamilton determines that ensuring Mercedes secure second in the Constructors’ Championship would represent a greater achievement.

“Yeah, 30 points in two races, it’s, yeah, he would have to have two disasters and I would have to be second, basically,” Hamilton conceded.

“But for me, honestly it really doesn’t make any difference if I’m second or third. I think we still had an amazing year given the car that we’ve had. We never thought that we would be fighting for second in the Constructors’ and knocking on the door of the most dominant car, probably, of our era.

“So yeah. I’m grateful for just being where we are and having a half-decent season. Much better than last year.”

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