MERCEDES were unable to capitalise on strong pace as Max Verstappen came through to win the Dutch Grand Prix.
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Max Verstappen and George Russell have both claimed Mercedes would not have won the Dutch Grand Prix if they had kept track position instead of pitting. Lewis Hamilton was closing the gap to Verstappen using fresh medium tyres before a safety car was deployed for the stricken Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes kept Hamilton out on track while Verstappen pitted for fresh soft tyres, giving up track position to the two Silver Arrows.
However, Russell then made the call to take fresh softs a lap later, dropping him behind the reigning champion. This left Hamilton vulnerable and Verstappen passed his former title rival moments after the restart.
Mercedes’ call left Hamilton furious with the seven-time champion swearing over the team radio. However, Russell has claimed Mercedes would have lost the race even if he hadn’t stopped for fresh rubber.
Russell said: “I think what would’ve happened if we both stayed out is that Max would’ve won the race and we would’ve probably finished behind Charles as well.”
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Max Verstappen predicted he would have passed Mercedes regardless of strategy (Image: Sky Sports F1)
Hamilton dropped behind his team-mate a lap later as the former Williams star passed on the front straight. Hamilton then fell behind Charles Leclerc as the Mercedes driver lost a podium place in the closing stages.
Race engineer Peter Bonnington apologised to Hamilton after the race with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also saying sorry. However, race winner Verstappen was confident he would have passed both Silver Arrows regardless of their decision.
He added: “I think I would’ve got both of them anyway if they would have stayed out. I think it was a smart call to pit.” After the race, Hamilton claimed he had the space to secure victory in Zandvoort but was unlucky with the late safety cars.
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Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton just after the restart (Image: Sky Sports F1)
But, Wolff was unsure as he claimed Red Bull had too much speed at their disposal for Mercedes to compete. Wolff explained: “I think the Red Bull has so much straight-line speed, on the same tyre we have nothing. I think there are so many more positives to take.
“Second and fourth is annoying, but we had a good race car here. We had to take risks.”