Hamilton and Verstappen did briefly race each other for the lead in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix, but the seven-time world champion was effectively a sitting duck after being left to defend from Verstappen’s soft-shod Red Bull on medium tyres in a dramatic end to the race following a late Safety Car.
Mercedes’ troubled 2022 campaign and Red Bull’s domination has prevented Hamilton and Verstappen from battling each other in a straight fight so far this season, after they engaged in one of the most intense F1 title scraps in history last year, which concluded in controversy in Abu Dhabi.
At one stage, it looked as though Hamilton and Verstappen were set for an epic duel for the win at Zandvoort until Red Bull capitalised when the race was neutralised to pit Verstappen for soft tyres, while Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out.
Verstappen immediately charged past a frustrated Hamilton at the restart and eased to his 10th victory in 15 races to delight his home crowd and move another step closer to sealing his second world title.
Asked about the prospect of a proper wheel-to-wheel battle Verstappen before the season is out, Hamilton said: “Yeah, I mean, dying to get back in that race and have the opportunity to fight Max but the day hasn’t come yet.”
Hamilton added: “It’s been such a rollercoaster ride this year, you know, and this was such a good race.
“The car was feeling better than it felt all year long. And obviously with a difficult race last week. Yesterday, I was up until the last corner where the Yellow Flag was I was 0.07 on everyone.
“So like we had pace. The car was different to how it had been all year long. And when I got up to second, I had that hard tyre on and I was catching them and I was thinking ‘we might be fighting for a win here. And potentially a one-two’.
“And then the Safety Cars and the frickin emotions were all over because I knew that at that point, I’d lost it. Before the restart, when everyone was on the soft tyre behind me, I knew that there was no way I was going to hold them behind me.”
Hamilton still has full faith in Mercedes
Hamilton apologised to Mercedes for his foul-mouthed radio outburst, which he put down to being “on the edge of breaking point with emotions”, while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said he had no issue with Hamilton expressing his frustration.
Despite questioning Mercedes’ strategy during the race, Hamilton insists he has full trust and belief in his team.
Asked if he feels Mercedes have the right team in place, Hamilton replied: “100 percent we do. The team are a group of young super determined individuals. Some have been here as long as me or longer.
“They continue to be motivated every year. I 1000 percent believe we have the right team in place. Today wasn’t an easy call.
“Of course we could always look back and all the certain scenarios and see what we could or would have made a different choice. But that’s not life. You just learn from it.
“I was hopeful to get a podium. I was hopeful to get a first or second at least but…we move on.”