Lewis Hamilton says his frustration at seeing a potential race victory slip away in the Dutch Grand Prix led to his radio outburst against his team, apologizing for what he said but not for his desire to win.
Mercedes looked set to pull off a one-stop strategy that would leave Max Verstappen having to chase Hamilton and George Russell down in the final stint, but the interruption of the Virtual Safety Car changed the picture. Then a later safety car left Hamilton having to restart on old medium tires compared to softs for the drivers behind him, and as he slipped back to fourth he said to his team on radio: “I can’t believe you guys f***ing screwed me, I can’t tell you how pissed I am.”
Hamilton says he wasn’t aware he could have changed to soft tires as teammate Russell requested when the cars ran through the pit lane behind the safety car, and he felt the race slipping away from him at that point.
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“It’s been such a rollercoaster ride this year, and this was such a good race,” Hamilton said. “The car was feeling better than it has felt all year long. And obviously with the difficult race last week… Yesterday, (in qualifying) I was up until the last corner where the yellow flag was I was 0.7s on everyone.
“So we had pace. The car was different to how it has been all year long. And when I got up to second, I had that hard tire on and I was catching them and I was thinking ‘Wow, we might be fighting for a win here. And potentially a one-two.’
“And then of course the safety car and all that came through. The frickin’ emotions went everywhere because I knew that at that point, I’d lost it. Before the restart. I knew when everyone was on the soft tire behind me I knew that there was no way I was gonna hold them behind me.
“I don’t want to apologize for my passion because that’s just how I am made and I don’t always get it right. I am sorry for my team for what I said because it was just in the heat of the moment, but I want to look at the glass half full. We have got so many positives to take from this weekend. Yes, I got fourth in the end but the car felt great.
“If the car feels like this in the other races, we’re going to be fighting for a win. And that’s amazing. The pit stops were great. This is the fastest pit stops the team had done all year. Honestly I was so gee’d up from that I thought, ‘Right, these guys were on. I am on it, the strategy was great,’ but anyway we just keep looking forwards and hope for a better race next.”
Hamilton says he doesn’t know why he wasn’t offered a set of soft tires under the safety car, although Russell actually requested such a stop from Mercedes.
“I have not had a lot of time to think about it. At the beginning of the day, we talked about taking a risk of going on to a one-stop. There was no discussion of like if we pit 20 laps from the end if there was a safety car.
“Honestly when that came out, I just followed the direction — I didn’t think anyone was going to stop. When I went past my pit box I saw the soft tires were out and I saw what was happening to George and I was like, ‘HAlastair Staley / LAT Imagesang on a second’ and my hopes faded a bit.”