Lewis Hamilton felt pace for podium was there in F1 Dutch GP, as George Russell rues incident-filled race with Toto Wolff adding.
Already Mercedes’ Hamilton had a bad Saturday to be out in Q2 and having to start from 13th. And then the team made a wrong call to not pit for intermediate tyres which threw him to the back alongwith his teammate Russell who also did not pit.
But they made gradual progress as the race went on and Hamilton was in a respectable position towards the end to end up in the Top 5. In fact, he was on the tail of Carlos Sainz and felt there was pace – similar to Max Verstappen – to finish on the podium.
“It didn’t start off that well,” said Hamilton to media. “But I’m pretty happy with the drive that I did to get back into the points and get sixth. It could have been higher for sure, if we made the right decision at the end of the day. We should have pitted, but we didn’t. We paid the price for that, and we did our best to come back.
“I feel like the race was redemption, in the sense of it was terrible qualifying. I managed to dial the car in a bit better and overtook a bunch of people. To start 13th, I was dead last at one point, to get back up to sixth, I’m happy with that. At the end, the tyres were good, just Sainz was slow and it was hard to get past him. I think I had the pace [for the podium]. I was on pace with Max in the race, but we were just out of position,” summed up Hamilton.
While he had a bit better outing, it was complete opposite for Russel whose race just did not see a bright light even though he too fought back in the Top 10. The team made a different call to use the hard tyres which kind of worked for him almost at one point.
But contacts with Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris only set him back with puncture which pretty much ended a disappointing outing. Despite the fight back, Russell felt his race was done at the start itself when the team made the wrong call.
“The race was over before it really got started,” said Russell. “The information we had regarding the weather was totally wrong. So that was a real shame. A podium was missed. As a team we need to review because we’re getting the information coming in to us and it was misjudged, the weather.
“So, it’s not anything to do with racing or engineering, it was clearly just a weather misinterpretation and that ruined our afternoon. So, we really need to look into what happened, why the others decided to pit, what information they maybe had that we didn’t and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.
“They told me it was going to be two minutes and I could manage for two minutes in those conditions. But it just got heavier and heavier and it lasted for 10 minutes. So it’s a joint effort, it was a real shame, to be honest, that it happened this way. But, live and learn. And towards the end, I had contact with Tsunoda about five laps before and I had massive vibrations and in high speed I was struggling to see.
“I looked a little in my mirror and next thing I was off the track. But I’m glad to have kept it out of the wall. It lasted for about five laps, so I lost probably three or four seconds of race time. So that was a shame because probably could have stayed ahead of Lewis, Lando – Gasly, I think it was, who came out the pits.
“So, seeing where Gasly ended up it could have been a very different story. We made a good recovery and then just the contact with Lando was an unfortunate racing incident causing the puncture. So, disappointing but good that we had a fast race car,” summed up Russell, who returned empty handed after starting in the Top 5.
From the team side, Wolff admitted to shortcomings from Mercedes which hampered Hamilton and Russell. He says the review will happen as they had decent pace to secure better results in the fight to retain second in the championship. “I think we stayed out catastrophically too long,” he said. “We got it completely wrong.
“We will review thoroughly. The situation is never one person or one department. It is the communications between driver, pit wall, strategy, weather and then all of us taking decisions. That was absolutely subpar from all of us, and that includes me. It’s good when it hurts. When it stings, it sticks. It’s annoying because the car had really good pace.
“And then, from there on it was just recovering as good as we could. We saw at the end on the intermediates George had Max’s pace and Lewis was very strong behind Sainz. We could have been much further ahead. I’d rather have good pace, a fast race car and a mediocre result even if it hurts. But it’s still bittersweet because the result is just really bad. It could have been, but that doesn’t count in our sport.”
Here’s how F1 Dutch GP panned out
Here’s Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton on Felipe Massa’s situation