Lewis Hamilton makes bold Dutch Grand Prix claim with surprise Mercedes pace

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton climbing into his W14. Hungary July 2023

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton climbing into his W14. Hungary July 2023

Lewis Hamilton believes he could’ve challenged for a top-two position at the Dutch Grand Prix were it not for Mercedes’ botched strategy, such was the pace of his W14.

Hamilton lined up 13th on the Zandvoort grid having stated that his car “didn’t feel too great” in the proceeding practice sessions.

But already on the back foot at the start of the race, his troubles were compounded when Mercedes opted not to pit their drivers during an early rain shower as they believed it would only last a few minutes.

Lewis Hamilton: We would have challenged Max Verstappen

But as the rain continued to fall, and their main rivals pitted for wet tyres, Mercedes eventually came in with both drivers well outside the points after that.

Putting in a recovery drive, Hamilton worked his way up the field and reckons his pace was so good he could’ve challenged for a top-two showing, maybe even fought Max Verstappen for the win were it not for his earlier woes.

“Today I had the pace, in those conditions if we made the right [strategy] calls, I could have challenged the top two,” he told Sky Sports.

“We would have challenged Max, particularly when we got to the dry pace-wise we weren’t terribly far off.

“I’m not saying we would have beat them, but I think we would have been happy. It’s still nice if you think that way.”

The Briton finished in sixth place, not a bad showing given his P13 starting slot on the grid.

“I feel like today was redemption in a sense that it was terrible yesterday and I’ve managed to dial the car in a bit better today,” he added.

“I overtook a bunch of people and to start 13th, I was dead last at one time, so to get back up to sixth, I’m happy with that.”

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Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff says the Brackley squad will do a full review after Sunday’s botched call to leave the drivers out in the rain.

“It didn’t start off that well,” Hamilton admitted, “but I’m happy with the drive that I did to get back into the points and get sixth.

“But it could have been higher, for sure, if we had made the right decision at the end of the day.”

Although Hamilton was one point behind Fernando Alonso prior to the Dutch Grand Prix, he left Zandvoort trailing the Aston Martin driver by 12 points as Alonso did make it onto the podium in second place.

Read next: Dutch GP driver ratings: Charles Leclerc flops and unlikely stars emerge at Zandvoort