Toto Wolff has explained what he “discussed” with a clearly angry and disappointed Lewis Hamilton after an eventful Dutch Grand Prix. Hamilton, at one stage, looked the strong favourite to win his first race of the season with Mercedes opting for a one-stop strategy.
Red Bull and Ferrari went with a two-stop as they felt it was going to be the best way around the tricky Zandvoort circuit. But it was soon clear that the hard tyre was going to work best on a long stint and both Hamilton and George Russell soon began picking off their rivals who were pitting for a second time.
Only Verstappen was left to come in for a second pit, but Yuki Tsunoda’s drama played into the Dutchman’s hands before the AlphaTauri pulled up on the side of the track with a Virtaul Safety Car being deployed. That was the first misfortune for Hamilton as Verstappen was given a free pit-stop to come in for fresh hards and stay out in front of the Brit.
Then Valtteri Bottas stopped on track down the pit-straight with a full Safety Car being deployed. Red Bull decided to bring Verstappen in again for softs, but Mercedes left both Hamilton and Russell out to take the lead of the race.
It looked as though Russell was going to be used in an attempt to block Verstappen catching Hamilton on the restart. But confusion ensued when Russell then demanded to come into the pits for softs, leaving Hamilton exposed to Verstappen.
Hamilton was then powerless at the restart to Verstappen overtaking him and it wasn’t ong until both Russell and Charles Leclerc also passed the seven-time world champion. The 37-year-old was furious on team radio, accusing Mercedes of ruining his race entirely with Wolff later apologising to his star driver.
But the Mercedes team principal has admitted he tried to reassure Hamilton to look at the positives that they were finally able to compete with both Red Bull and Ferrari on the track.
“That’s the positives and this is what I just discussed with Lewis,” Wolff said on Sky Sports. “There’s so much more positives to take.
“Second or fourth. It’s annoying, but we had a good race here. That is the most important and you’ve got to take risks where we are.”