Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated after the Dutch Grand Prix. The F1 defending champion finished second behind title rival Max Verstappen, who produced an excellent performance to take victory at his home circuit.
Mercedes pulled out all the stops to try and outfox Red Bull, but despite the team’s best efforts, their rivals were simply too good.
“The tyres were actually pretty good this weekend – I was flat-out the whole race”, Hamiltion said post race.
“There was no tyre management, I was just trying to keep as close as possible, but I tell you he [Verstappen] was fast today. They were on another level today that I genuinely couldn’t answer really to most of those laps.”
Hamilton pushed hard and reduced the gap to as low as seven tenths of a second when teammate Valtteri Bottas led the race and held up Verstappen for a short period.
The seven-time champion pitted twice, each putting on a new set of medium tyres before putting for the third time late in the race to grab the extra point for the fastest lap.
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The 36-year-old suggested his team’s strategy was incorrect and also commented on Verstappen on winning the first grand prix at Zandvoort since 1985.
“I definitely think that wasn’t our best strategy but it was really hard out there. At the end of the day they were just too quick,” he said.
“We’ll take it offline and try and figure out how we can improve it, but I think we stopped too early in that second part and it had just been a point where we got through traffic – I’d lost a good second to him [Verstappen] and I needed time to close that gap up before we did a stop.”
He added: “Then I came out behind traffic so couldn’t actually implement [the plan] and I don’t know how they didn’t see that.”
“But it is what it is and we work through it. Congrats to Max – they put an upgrade on at the last race and whoo – they’re quick!”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff thought Hamiltion had a slight chance of undercutting Vertsappen with an early second stop, but when his driver emerged behind three other cars, it was always going to be an uphill battle.
The Austrian admitted: “We had a sniff of an undercut there, [but] we didn’t time it right.
“When they have the quickest car on track, whatever you try on strategy it’s difficult. But credit to him [Verstappen], credit to Red Bull, they were really faultless today,” he added.
Mercedes usually work like a well-oiled machine but things seemed to unravel towards the end of the race.
Valtteri Bottas was told to abort his fastest lap attempt towards the conclusion of the Dutch Grand Prix by Mercedes to allow Lewis Hamilton to pick up the bonus point.
The Finn was rapid through sector one and sector two before his engineer barked “abort” over the team radio.
Moments later, Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of tyres and before blitzing round the circuit in record time.
Hamilton now trails Verstappen by three points in this mouthwatering F1 world title battle as the teams now head to Monza for the final race of the triple header.
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