Lewis Hamilton was furious with his team after their decision to bring in George Russell left him defenceless against eventual Dutch Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen.
Hamilton found himself in contention for a race victory for the first time this season when he led the race ahead of Verstappen, but a team decision from Mercedes cost him the chance to win.
Mercedes looked to have crafted the perfect strategy as they originally opted for a one-stop compared to the rest of the grid’s choice of two, which meant Hamilton would come out ahead of Verstappen by the time the Red Bull driver had stopped for the second time.
However, those plans changed when Yuki Tsunoda’s bizarre retirement brought out the Virtual Safety Car. The AlphaTauri man pulled over to the side of the road on lap 45, saying one of the tyres that had just been fitted to his car was not on correctly.
Tsunoda’s team replied to tell him it was on properly before the driver got back under way and was able to drive back to the pits. The pit crew then spent a significant amount of time adjusting the driver’s seatbelts before sending him out once more, only for him to pull over again complaining of a problem with the rear of the car.
With Tsunoda’s second stop on track, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed, which gave Verstappen the perfect opportunity to stop for a new set of hard tyres and Hamilton copied the move behind him.
Later, Hamilton’s former team-mate Valtteri Bottas pulled over on the main straight, which brought out the full Safety Car. As the Safety Car led the pack, the top three order was Verstappen, Hamilton and George Russell, but it was only Verstappen and Russell who chose to pit for soft tyres.
The call was made by Russell and agreed by the team, which meant that while Hamilton led at the end of the Safety Car period, he was on old medium tyres with no team-mate behind compared to Verstappen’s fresh softs.
It was reminiscent of the infamous battle between the two most recent Championship winners at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year as Verstappen easily overtook Hamilton on the new tyres. To make matters worse for the Briton, he was then passed by Russell and Charles Leclerc to go from a possible race win to P4.
Hamilton fumed over the radio, telling his team he could not believe they had “f****** screwed” him.
“I can’t believe you guys ****** me,” he informed race engineer Peter Bonnington. “Can’t tell you how p***** I am.”
After the race, Hamilton made a pointed message to the team as he singled out the mechanics, not the pit wall, for praise.
“To all the mechanics, fantastic job today,” the 37-year-old said. “They were the best pit stops we’ve had all year, so thank you for your continued efforts.
“Let’s keep pushing, we still got points today.”
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