Danica Patrick said Lewis Hamilton showed a “cool and calm” attitude after losing out in Austin, which shows he can respond in the title fight.
Hamilton finished a close second behind World Championship rival Max Verstappen in an enthralling United States Grand Prix on Sunday, which allowed the Red Bull driver to open up the gap at the top to 12 points heading into the final five races.
Speaking on Sky F1 as a pundit, the former IndyCar and NASCAR driver believes the patience and relaxed nature shown by the reigning World Champion and his team could pay dividends in the final rounds.
“True champions know how to come back,” said Patrick, quoted on Sky Sports’ website. “I feel like Mercedes still had a great attitude – both Toto [Wolff, team principal] and Lewis seemed really cool and calm and I think that will pay off.
“They’ve been around, they’ve accomplished a ton and this one race won’t faze them with five to go.”
Race result at the #USGP 🇺🇸
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The race played out in fascinating fashion as a difference in strategies set up a grandstand finish at the Circuit of The Americas.
Verstappen managed to eke out the life of his older tyres to cross the line narrowly ahead of the Mercedes, but both driver and team were magnanimous in defeat after the race – and Patrick believes the knowledge there is plenty of time to overhaul the gap is playing a part in their approach.
“I thought Toto seemed calm, Lewis seemed calm and at the end of the day there’s basically a quarter of the season left,” she said. “That’s a lot of season left and a lot can happen.
“At this point in time you have to look at the positives, and that’s five races left. DNFs are possible and being exceptional, just as they have done in history, is totally possible.”
Jenson Button agreed with Patrick in her assessment of how the season may play out as, given how close the race was and how tight the battle remains, his former team-mate Hamilton can relax in the knowledge he gave everything on Sunday.
“This still isn’t a bad, bad race for Mercedes,” said the 2009 World Champion. “Lewis is very calm and I think it’s because he knows they did nothing wrong this weekend, they did everything right, it is what it is.
“Whereas in Turkey they obviously made mistakes, lost points and he was quite angry on team radio.”