‘Lewis Hamilton has himself to blame for a rookie mistake at the restart’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton is overtaken by Max Verstappen at the restart. Netherlands September 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is overtaken by Max Verstappen at the restart. Netherlands September 2022

Although Lewis Hamilton was fuming with Mercedes after he lost the lead of the Dutch Grand Prix at the Safety Car restart, Auto Motor und Sport claim he shares some of the responsibility as he made not one but two mistakes.

A late Safety Car period in the Dutch Grand Prix saw Hamilton take the lead when Max Verstappen stopped for soft tyres, falling to third.

But while Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out, the driver on used mediums, his team-mate George Russell made the call to also stop for soft tyres, Verstappen up to second with Russell P3.

Both drivers overtook Hamilton at the restart, the Briton fuming that Mercedes had “f****** screwed” him as he was also passed by Charles Leclerc, falling from first to fourth.

Although it is fair to say Mercedes made life difficult for Hamilton, Toto Wolff believingĀ it was a risk “worth taking”, it is being reported the seven-time former World Champion did not do himself any favours either.

“In fact,” says Auto Motor und Sport’s Michael Schmidt, “Hamilton has himself to blame for a rookie mistake that wasn’t even officially discussed.

“He made the restart far too early, giving Verstappen the perfect chance to get out of his slipstream.

“Worse still, Hamilton flipped the engine mode switch the wrong way, stealing the power he needed to defend himself.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened to him.

“The engineers are now puzzling how to design the mode change in such a way that errors are practically impossible.”

He also feels Hamilton’s early start meant the Mercedes team-mates could not work together to block Verstappen.

“Russell was visibly surprised by his team-mate’s early start,” Schmidt continued. “Just then, he took a little distance from the Red Bull in front of him.

“If the Mercedes drivers had cornered Verstappen at the green light, it would have been more difficult for the Dutch superstar to regain the lead immediately. Hamilton could have blocked the way for Russell.”

Verstappen took the win with Russell P2, Hamilton unable to recover and finishing fourth.

The Briton has since calmed down on his comments, apologising to the team for his rant.

ā€œI think the guys were really, really on it,” he told Sky Sports. “We were all on it. And I really was hopeful we would get a one-two together as a team.

“But then of course thereā€™s the Safety Car, [it] really didnā€™t help, and I was just on the edge of breaking point with emotions, and my apologies to the team because I donā€™t remember what I said.

“I just lost it for a second, but I think they know itā€™s just so much passion and I want to look at it as a glass half full.”