‘I knew I’d lost the race before the restart’ · RaceFans

Lewis Hamilton knew he was a sitting duck at the final restart in the Dutch Grand Prix as he hadn’t switched to a set of soft tyres as the drivers behind him had.

The Mercedes driver moved into the lead of the race when the Safety Car was deployed due to Valtteri Bottas’s car coming to a stop on the pit straight. While Verstappen came in to switch to soft tyres, giving up the race lead, Hamilton stayed out on his medium rubber, which had only done five laps.

However other drivers behind him switched to softs, including team mate George Russell. After the restart he was immediately passed by three of them and finished fourth.

The result was a blow for Hamilton after Mercedes’ strongest showing of the year so far, in a season where there are still yet to score a win.

“It’s been such a rollercoaster ride this year,” said Hamilton in response to a question from RaceFans. “This was such a good race.

“The car was feeling better than it’s felt all year long. And obviously we had a difficult race last week.

“Yesterday up until the last corner where the yellow flag was, I was up 0.7 on everyone. So we had pace. The car was different to how it’s been all year long.”

Having started fourth, Hamilton moved into the lead by making a single pit stop while others planned to do two. But a Virtual Safety Car period allowed Max Verstappen to make his pit stop and rejoin ahead of Hamilton.

The later Safety Car period gave Hamilton a chance to retake the lead. But once he saw the others pitted when he didn’t, he realised his victory chances were over.

“I got up to second, I had the hard tyre on and I was catching them and I was thinking we might be fighting for a win here and potentially a one-two,” he said.

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“Then of course the Safety Cars and all that came through, the fricking emotions were all over because I knew that at that point I’d lost it before the restart. I knew when everyone was on the soft tyre behind me, I knew that was it, there was no way I was going to hold them behind me.”

Hamilton fumed at his team on the radio for not changing his tyres, saying they had “screwed” his race. He apologised for his comments afterwards.

“I don’t want to apologise for my passion because that’s just how I’m made and I don’t always get it right,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “I am sorry for my team for what I said because it was just in the heat of the moment.

“But I want to look at the glass half-full. We’ve got so many positives to take this weekend. Yes we got fourth in the end. But the car felt great. If the car feels like this in the other races we’re going to be fighting for a win. And that’s amazing.

“The pit stops were great. This is the fastest pit stops I think the team had done all year. Honestly, I was so gee’d up from that I thought these guys are on it, we’re on it, the strategy is great. But anyway, we’ve just got keep looking forwards and hope for a better race next.”

Team principal Toto Wolff reminded him on the radio after the race the team had chosen to take risks in order to maximise their chance of victory. But Hamilton said they had not debated the possibility of a late Safety Car period.

“At the beginning of the day we talked about taking the risk of going onto a one-stop,” he said. “There was no discussion of like ‘if, 20 laps or 15 laps to the end, there was a Safety Car’. That wasn’t part of the discussion.”

He admitted he was frustrated at missing out on the chance to win. “I’ve been dying to get back in that race and have the opportunity to fight,” he said. “But the day hasn’t come yet.”

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