Hamilton stands by criticism of Mercedes’ Dutch GP plan

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamlton and Max Verstappen talking post-race. Netherlands, September 2021.

Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] speaks with Max Verstappen [Red Bull] after the Dutch Grand Prix. September 2020.

Lewis Hamilton reaffirmed his belief that Mercedes put him on the wrong strategy as he finished P2 at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Pole-sitter Max Verstappen was able to keep the lead into Turn 1, quickly establishing a buffer over Hamilton in P2.

As expected Mercedes then split their strategies for Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, but Hamilton was left frustrated with what he felt was an early stop.

Being fed out into traffic, Hamilton made his displeasure clear over the radio, ultimately crossing the line P2 and conceding the lead of the Drivers’ Championship to Verstappen.

And while accepting that he did not have the pace to deny Verstappen that win on home soil, Hamilton felt Mercedes did him no favours at all from the pit wall.

“I definitely think that wasn’t our best strategy,” he told Sky F1.

“But it was really hard out there, at the end of the day they were just too quick, and we’ll take it offline and try figure out how we can improve it.

“But I just think we stopped too early in that second part, and it had just been a point where we [went] through traffic, I lost a good second from them, and I needed time to close that gap up before we did a stop.

“And then I came out behind traffic, so I couldn’t actually implement, and I don’t know how they didn’t see that.

“But it is what it is, and we worked through it.

“Congrats to Max, they put an upgrade on the last race and they’re quick.”

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Hamilton said that the tyres brought to Zandvoort, those being Pirelli’s hardest compounds the C1, C2 and C3s, were “actually pretty good”.

But because he spent the vast majority of the race in Verstappen’s dirty air, keeping them healthy became much more difficult.

“I think the reason it was difficult was because I was so close, I was within three seconds and you already have a tow from six seconds here,” Hamilton explained.

“But the tyres were actually pretty good this weekend, I was flat out the whole race, there was no time in it, I was just trying to keep as close as possible.

“But he was fast today, they were on another level that I genuinely couldn’t answer to most of those laps.”

Asked if he can find an answer at the upcoming Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton responded: “Well we don’t have any upgrades coming, but it’s a different downforce level so maybe.”