Furious Lewis Hamilton accused his Mercedes team of “f****** screwing” him after a misguided approach derailed his shot at winning the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton was in contention to take his first win of the season – running second to Max Verstappen when Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas broke down, and the safety car was brought out with 15 laps remaining.
But as Verstappen, and everyone around him, pitted for the fastest soft tyre, the Briton was left on the worn medium rubber.
Hamilton took the lead, but a strange decision by Mercedes gave the seven-time world champion a sitting duck – just like last year’s title decider in Abu Dhabi – when the race resumed on lap 61 of 72.
Verstappen passed Hamilton before the first corner, much to the delight of his home crowd. The Red Bull driver went on to claim his fourth consecutive victory and extended his championship lead over Charles Leclerc to 109 points with seven rounds remaining and 191 points available.
George Russell passed Hamilton for second on lap 64, with Ferrari’s Leclerc knocking Hamilton off the podium the next time. Hamilton immediately turned the airwaves blue.
“That’s the biggest bullshit,” he yelled into the radio.
The 37-year-old added: “I can’t believe you guys f****** screwed me. I can’t tell you how much of a p***** I am.”
Hamilton started fourth, but a one-stop tire strategy looked set to work in his favor only for Verstappen to be effectively given a free stop by Yuki Tsunoda, driving for Red Bull’s junior team Alpha Tauri, broke down on lap 48 and the Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
We took a risk. Let’s talk about it between us in the office.
However, Hamilton will be given the chance of a reprieve, but his failure to get fresh rubber for Sunday’s late shootout cost him dearly.
He crossed the line 13 seconds behind Verstappen as the Dutchman closed in on his second title in as many years.
After the checkered flag fell, Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington said: “Sorry, Lewis.
“It looks good, but we’ll sit down and review the decisions we’ve made.”
Toto Wolff adds his voice to the list of apologies. “Lewis, sorry it didn’t work out,” said the principal of the Mercedes team.
“We took a risk. Let’s talk about it between us in the office.”
Hamilton took to the radio to express gratitude only to his mechanics, leaving out any mention of his team’s strategy department, led by James Vowles.
“To all mechanics, fantastic job today,” he said. “They were the best pit-stops of the season so thanks for the continued effort. Let’s keep pushing. We still have points today.”
An hour after the checkered flag fell, Hamilton explained his anger on the radio.
PA Graphics” data-copyright-notice=”PA Graphics/Press Association Images” data-credit=”PA Graphics” data-usage-terms=”” srcset=”https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/ image/production/01d1324b503ceb82046a08b2dfb5b153Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaGFwaSwxNjYyMzk5NTU5/2.68626949.jpg?w=215 215w, https://image.assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/01d1324b503ceb82046a08b2dfb5b153Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaGFwaSwxNjYyMzk5NTU5/2.68626949.jpg?w=430 430w, https://image. assets.pressassociation.io/v2/image/production/01d1324b503ceb82046a08b2dfb5b153Y29udGVudHNlYXJjaGFwaSwxNjYyMzk5NTU5/2.68626949.jpg?w=860 860w” sizes=”(max-width: 767px) 89vw, (max-width: 1040px, max-width: 1040px) ) 543px, 580px”>
“I don’t want to apologize for my passion, because that’s how I was made and I don’t always get it right,” he said.
“I’m sorry to my team for what I said because it was done in the heat of the weather.
“Of course I’m disappointed. It’s been a rollercoaster ride this year. I got to second, I caught them (Verstappen) and was thinking, ‘Wow, we can fight for a win here, and maybe a one-two’.
“And then the safety car came and the emotions were all over the place. I knew at that moment I lost it because everyone was on soft tires and there was no way I was going to hold them on my back.
Russell, now 30 points ahead of Hamilton in the standings, asked to be replaced on soft rubber, but his team-mate left the ball in Mercedes’ court.
“I haven’t had any discussions with the team,” Hamilton said. “I didn’t think anyone would stop.
“But when I went past my pit box, and I saw that the soft tire was gone, and I saw it happening to George, I lost hope.
“I 1,000 percent believe we have the right team in place. Today was not an easy call, and of course we can look back and say we would have made a different choice but that’s not life and you have to learn from it.
“I hope to get a podium, first or second at least, but we’re moving on.”
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox