A furious Lewis Hamilton accused his Mercedes team of “fucking him” after a failed strategy saw him miss out on his chance to win Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Hamilton was in contention for his first win of the season – he was running second to Max Verstappen when Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo broke down and the pace car was sent off with 15 laps remaining.
But while Verstappen and everyone around him stopped to switch to faster soft tyres, the Briton continued on worn medium tyres.
Hamilton took over the lead, but Mercedes’ curious decision made the seven-time world champion an easy target, just like in last year’s title-clinching race in Abu Dhabi, when the race restarted on lap 61 of 72. .
Verstappen quickly passed Hamilton before the first corner, to the delight of his home crowd. The Red Bull driver took his fourth consecutive win and extended his championship lead over Charles Leclerc to 109 points with seven rounds remaining and 191 points available.
George Russell passed Hamilton for second on lap 64, and Ferrari’s Leclerc knocked Hamilton off the podium on the next. Hamilton was quick to rant.
“What a f*ck up!” he yelled over the radio.
The 37-year-old pilot added: “I can’t believe you guys f*cked me up. I can’t tell you how furious I am.”
Hamilton was starting fourth, but a one-stop tire strategy looked like it was going to work in his favor only because Verstappen had an effective free stop when the car of Yuki Tsunoda, who drives for Red Bull’s junior team Alpha Tauri, crashed. It broke down on lap 48 and the virtual pace car came along.
However, Hamilton would have a chance to redeem himself, but not being able to get fresh tires for Sunday’s final showdown cost him dearly.
Cruzó la línea 13 segundos detrás de Verstappen. El holandés se acerca a su segundo título después de muchos años.
Después de que cayera la bandera a cuadros, el ingeniero de carrera de Hamilton, Peter Bonnington, dijo: “Lo siento, Lewis”.
“Se veía bien, pero nos reuniremos y revisaremos las decisiones que tomamos”.
Toto Wolff se sumó a las disculpas. “Lewis, lo siento, no funcionó”, expresó el director del equipo Mercedes.
“Nos arriesgamos. Discutámoslo entre nosotros en la oficina”.
Hamilton habló por el radio para agradecer solo a sus mecánicos, sin mencionar al departamento de estrategia de su equipo, encabezado por James Vowles.
“A todos los mecánicos, [hicieron] un trabajo fantástico hoy”, señaló. “Fueron las mejores paradas en pits de la temporada, así que gracias por el esfuerzo continuo. Sigamos trabajando. Todavía logramos obtener puntos hoy”.
Una hora después de que cayera la bandera a cuadros, Hamilton explicó su furia expresada por la radio.
“I don’t want to apologize for my passion, because that’s how I’m made and I don’t always do it right,” he justified.
“I apologize to my team for what I said, because it was done in the heat of the moment.”
“Of course I am disappointed. This year has been like a roller coaster. I came in second, I was catching up with him [Verstappen] and I thought: ‘Wow, we could be in the running for a win here, and maybe a one-two.
“And then the pace car came along and emotions were all over the place. I knew at that moment that I had lost because they all had soft tires and there was no way I was going to keep them behind me.
Russell, now 30 points ahead of Hamilton in the standings, demanded a switch to soft tyres, but his teammate left the decision to Mercedes.
“I didn’t have any conversations with the team,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t think anyone was going to stop.”
“But when I came through the pits and saw the soft tires were out and saw what was happening to George, my hopes were dashed.”
“I believe 1000 percent that we have the right team. Today was not an easy decision and, of course, we could look back and say that we would have made a different decision, but that is not life and you have to learn from it.
“I was hoping to get a podium finish, first or second at least, but we kept going.”