‘F*** up’ – Hamilton still has faith in Mercedes despite X-rated blast after error allowed Verstappen to win Dutch GP
THIS felt like a case of déjà vu.
Lewis Hamilton in the lead while driving behind the safety car – only to be passed by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who would go on to take the glory.
There was also the tin-foil hat brigade on social media casting wild accusations of a conspiracy after Red Bull’s sister team had sparked a rather strange virtual safety car.
The scars from those wounds inflicted at last year’s controversial finale in Abu Dhabi are still obvious at Mercedes.
But there was no need for an inquest here. No race director sacking, either. Just a good old passionate outburst in obvious frustration after a team cock-up.
Hamilton fumed over the radio at his team: “That was the biggest f*** up.”.
He later added: “I can’t believe you guys f****** screwed me. I can’t tell you how p***** I am.”
Hamilton came home in fourth place behind teammate George Russell and Charles Leclec, who finished in second and third place respectively.
He later apologised for his language used towards his team but didn’t for his passion.
Quite why Mercedes failed to pit Hamilton – when they did his teammate Russell – will be unpicked at their Brackley HQ today.
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But once he had cooled down after his rant on the team’s radio, Hamilton was adamant they ARE still the best in the business – despite the error which denied him a long-awaited win.
When asked if he felt whether Mercedes had the right staff in place, Hamilton was definite.
“One hundred percent we do,” he said: “This team are a group of young, super-determined individuals.
“Some have been here as long as me or longer. They continue to be motivated every year. I 1,000 percent believe we have the right team in place.
“Today wasn’t an easy call. Of course we could always look back at all the scenarios and see what we could have done or if we would have made a different choice.
“But that’s not life. You just learn from it. I was hopeful to get a podium. I was hopeful to get a first or second at least but we move on.”
It was a thrilling race from start to finish. Hamilton nearly collided with Carlos Sainz on the first lap when they came dangerously close to touching.
But this week there was no repeat of the incident which ended his race on lap one of the Belgian GP just seven days earlier.
He was three seconds behind pole-sitter Verstappen before Hamilton started cutting his way back into the race.
He tangled with Sergio Perez as the Mexican driver put up a spirited fight before Hamilton finally squeezed past on lap 36.
On the hard tyre, Hamilton started cutting into Verstappen’s lead in the hope of going the race distance with only one pitstop.
But that strategy went out the window on lap 47 when Yuki Tsunoda complained of feeling his wheels were not fitted correctly.
The Japanese driver made a pitstop but came out back on track only to pull over to the side and the race director deployed the virtual safety car, which allowed Verstappen to make a stop for fresh tyres.
It played into his hands as he was able to maintain his place at the front.
But on lap 56, it was Hamilton’s turn for a long-overdue slice of luck.
It came in the form of a retirement for his chum Valtteri Bottas, whose Alfa Romeo conked out.
Verstappen decided to stop again, but curiously Hamilton had stayed out, promoting him to the lead.
But rather than stopping for tyres himself, Mercedes kept him out on track and he was left a sitting duck when the race resumed on lap 66.
It was all too easy as Verstappen swooped past into turn one and into the lead and on his way to victory.
Hamilton’s chances of his first win of the season were extinguished and he then saw his podium disappear too, as he was eventually passed by Russell and Charles Leclerc.
Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff admitted it was a tough call not to bring Hamilton in for tyres.
He said: “It’s right [he’s angry], because the pitwall and strategists try to calculate probabilities and come up with the best possible decisions.
“It all came so quickly. It was so tremendously difficult to make the right judgement call and especially if you have two drivers that are competing against each other.
“One is going to be upset and the other one is going to be happy and that’s the swing and just acknowledge that the frustration on one side is always there.
“Every single day of my life, I’d rather risk everything for winning the race rather than cementing second and third.
“We get emotional in the race. And when you’re the driver in the car, it just comes out and you can’t stop it.
“We are the trash can, the vomit bag in the aeroplane. And we’re taking all that because we need to.
“This is how it has always been in a relationship between a frustrated driver and the pitwall.
“We decided to take a risk that really backfired for him. But there’s more positives to take and this is what we chatted about.”
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