Wolff defends late-race strategy at Zandvoort after Hamilton fumes at Mercedes decision

·2-min read

Toto Wolff declared "it was worth taking the risk" for both Mercedes drivers to pit with Lewis Hamilton leading the Dutch Grand Prix, despite the Briton fuming on the team radio after the race.

Hamilton was pushing towards a first race victory of the season on Sunday at Zandvoort, where he was embroiled in a gripping battle with reigning world champion Max Verstappen.

Seven-time champion Hamilton seemed to seize the initiative after Verstappen pitted following a second safety car deployment due to apparent engine issues for Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas.

While Hamilton surged into the lead, Mercedes decided the 37-year-old should pit and also called in team-mate George Russell, losing the buffer advantage over Verstappen.

That was to allow both Hamilton and Russell to compete for the win in the closing stages, but that plan came unstuck as Verstappen surged into the lead on lap 61 before easing to victory.

As Verstappen embarked on his victory lap in front of a boisterous home crowd, Hamilton furiously questioned the call over the team radio – a decision that Mercedes team principal Wolff later defended.

"First of all, Lewis is ahead. So, we're always having a problem with the call," Wolff told Sky Sports when asked about the decision.

"You can do two things. You can either pit Lewis, lose track position against Verstappen, and leave George out – screwed. You can pit both – screwed. So, it was worth taking the risk."

While Wolff defended the decision in his post-race interview, he admitted on the team radio to Hamilton that the gamble did not pay dividends, adding: "Yeah Lewis, sorry it didn't work out.

"We did what we discussed in the morning, we took a risk. It didn't work. Let's discuss it between us in the office."

Having squandered the lead to Verstappen, Hamilton slipped down to fourth after being overtaken by second-placed Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.