Lewis Hamilton has affirmed his confidence in the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport being able to recover from a double-retirement at the Austrian Grand Prix in a nightmare weekend for the team.
Hamilton retired from the race from fourth place with a loss of fuel pressure on lap 63, ceding his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to Sebastian Vettel as a result. Additionally, the Brit spent most of the race frustrated with his position, losing a 13 second lead by not pitting during the Virtual Safety Car period caused by a gearbox failure for team-mate Valtteri Bottas on lap 14.
Mercedes’ Chief Strategist, James Vowles, owned up to his error of judgement to Hamilton mid-race in a radio message that was broadcast on the world feed.
Rear blistering on the soft compound tyres added to his downbeat mood, having to pit for a second time – an anomaly amongst the front runners – in a desperate bid to move forwards.
The reigning champion said that this weekend is the “worst” that he can remember “for a long time”, but said that the team must look for positives in their performance. Bottas and Hamilton took a convincing 1-2 in Qualifying and the latter topped the timing screens in both of Friday’s Free Practice sessions.
The 33-year-old also noted that this is the first technical retirement suffered by a Mercedes driver since Bottas at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2017. Hamilton’s favourable run of reliability stretches back to the ’16 Malaysian Grand Prix.
“This is definitely the worst weekend that I can remember for a long time,” said a dejected Hamilton.
“Everyone in the team will be feeling pain today, but we’ve got to take out the positives of the weekend. The car has been great all weekend, we were quickest and we’ve had such great reliability for so many years.”
Hamilton added that he has “every confidence in [his] team” to bounce back next weekend at the Silverstone International Circuit, his home race. Hamilton has has won the last four British Grand Prix and will need to replicate his past achievements in order to recover his championship bid.
Courtesy of Vettel’s third place, behind victor Max Verstappen and Kimi Räikkönen, the German regains the one-point lead he lost at the Circuit Paul Ricard a week ago.
“As painful as it is, we have to take the rough with the smooth,” he added.
“I have every confidence in my team that we will be able to bounce back. We can’t throw away points, so we will have to find a bullet-proof method going forward. We will work on it and we will try to re-evaluate and come back stronger.”