Lewis Hamilton believes he had the pace to match Max Verstappen in the Dutch Grand Prix but says Mercedes made the wrong strategic call that prevented him showing it.
Rain on the opening lap at Zandvoort led to a number of drivers stopping immediately for intermediate tires, with Sergio Perez the lead car to do so and opening up a significant lead. Hamilton and teammate George Russell were told by Mercedes that the shower would be short and stayed out on slicks longer, demoting them to the back of the field from where Hamilton fought through to finish in the top six.
“It didn’t start off that well but I’m happy with the drive that I did to get back into the points and get sixth,” Hamilton said. “But it could have been higher, for sure, if we had made the right decision at the end of the day.
“We should have pitted, obviously, and we didn’t and we paid the price for that, and we did our best to come back.
“I think I had the pace (for the podium), I was on pace with Max in the race but we were out of position. I don’t know how the car will be on low downforce at the next race.
“I have no clue how that will be. Max will be long gone, 30-plus seconds like he always is and then I think for us hopefully we will have a better weekend and fight for a podium, like we should have been this weekend.”
On a personal level, despite the frustration of the missed opportunity to score a bigger result, Hamilton says his progress from qualifying 13th and then dropping to the back was satisfying after a difficult Saturday.
“I feel like (the race) was redemption in a sense that it was terrible (in qualifying) and I’ve managed to dial the car in a bit better. I overtook a bunch of people and to start 13th, I was dead last at one time, so to get back up to sixth, I’m happy with that.”