Damon Hill has backed Lewis Hamilton after the Brit was annoyed with Mercedes’ decisions at the Dutch Grand Prix as Max Verstappen went on to claim victory on his home circuit. The Silver Arrows told Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell to pit which allowed Verstappen to move behind the seven-time world champion and eventually overtake the Brit.
As the Dutchman pitted for soft tyres while the safety car had been deployed, Russell was behind Hamilton and Verstappen would have had to overtake both to claim the win. However Mercedes decided to pit Russell in the final stretch and Verstappen on his new tyres moved into second and then was able to overtake Hamilton on his way to a tenth victory of the season.
Hamilton was frustrated with the decision from his team and produced a foul-mouthed tirade on the team radio, and Hill believed that it may have been a “better call” for Mercedes to leave Russell behind Hamilton and give Verstappen a more difficult task. That’s despite both Russell and Verstappen claiming the Dutchman would have passed both Mercedes for victory.
“I, first of all, called it the same way Jensen [Button] did,” Hill told Sky Sports News. “George Russell had to jink to avoid hitting his team-mate, he had gone to the soft tyres, Lewis was very unhappy because he thought they should have kept George Russell behind him on the same tyres, because that would have meant that on the restart they would have had a car between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
“How familiar does this sound? I can understand Lewis’ frustration and when you are driving in a race you are very hot-headed let’s say, I think you have to be highly charged so things get said. He has recognised that it was upsetting for the team to hear that.
“I think it would have been a better call to at least give it a go and say to George ‘You stay there and stay between Lewis and Max’, but the pace that Max had was so incredible that on the soft tyres it would have been difficult for both of them to keep in behind.”Hamilton blanked Russell after the race as he was also overtaken by his Mercedes team-mate, but did apologise for his X-rated rant on the team radio during the race.
“My apologies to the team,” Hamilton said on Sky Sports F1. “I don’t know what I said, I lost it for a second and I think they know it’s so much passion. I want to look at it as a glass half full.
“We struggled coming here from Spa and fighting against the Red Bulls. We were quicker than most, but if it were for the safety car I think we would have challenged him [Verstappen] on the one-stop, which I don’t think the others could do.”