Lewis Hamilton produced a phenomenal recovery drive in the rain at the Dutch Grand Prix to finish in sixth place.
The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver started in 13th place but rain quickly hit Zandvoort by the second lap. The team left the British driver on his medium tyres for a further four laps, while others stopped to go onto the intermediate tyres, Hamilton slipped further down the order.
“When the rain came out, as a team we made the wrong decision,” said Hamilton. “Ultimately it was the team’s call and we paid the price for that and then we came out last,
“After that it was just chasing, kept my head down and I think it was a really good example of when you fall or stumble to get back up and keep trying.”
The seven-time World Champion worked his way up to sixth place, passing Lando Norris in the process until extreme rain caused a red flag to halt the race.
A rolling start led to six laps of racing where Hamilton pushed hard to overtake Carlos Sainz Jr. but was unable to pass the Scuderia Ferrari driver. “At the end, I just needed DRS to pass Sainz, because I was quicker but didn’t have the speed on the straight to do it. But overall, it’s a feeling of what could have been“
Had the right decisions been made, Hamilton believes his W14 had great potential to reach the podium places, saying, “In the conditions, if we had made the right call I had the pace to be challenging the top two.”
“We had such a fast car today and unfortunately all the decisions and the weather went against us” – George Russell
Team-mate George Russell finished 17th at Zandvoort as a late puncture ended any chances of a points finish.
Russell started in third place, and like his team-mate was overruled in making a pit stop early as the rain poured down. Russell briefly took the lead after he passed Lando Norris and Max Verstappen who had pitted, but was soon quickly overtaken by Sergio Perez who had fitted intermediate on lap two.
Staying out in the rain for too long left the Brit in 16th place with lots of work to do. Russell had optimised the car’s pace in qualifying, starting third on the grid but felt the decision making at the start was wrong in the race, saying:
“We were expecting the rain to stay for about one or two minutes, and it ended up staying for close to ten minutes and it was ready for intermediate tyres but I thought I could brave it out for a lap or two more if it was only going to be one or two minutes more of rain and it obviously wasn’t,
“I think we’d rather have a fast car and a bad day than the opposite but a big missed opportunity today.”
Despite the early challenges, the young Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team driver decided to switch to the hard tyres once the rain eased.
This gave Russell the opportunity to race until the end of the race without another pit-stop, while others had to, slowly reaching back up to seventh position, in a solid recovery drive.
Following the red flag, a collision with McLaren Formula 1 Team driver Lando Norris at turn 11 left Russell with a rear left puncture, ending any hopes for a points finish.
“We got it wrong today but as I said, there’s a lot of positives to take away,” said Russell. “We knew this circuit could be strong for us – and looking to Monza, it’s a totally different beast. We will clear our heads, go in with some new ideas and the learnings from this weekend, and see what we can do.”