Mercedes’ performance at the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend was enough to convince Sir Lewis Hamilton that the Silver Arrows can win a race in 2022.
Both Hamilton and team-mate, George Russell, looked in contention for pole position on Saturday in Zandvoort, but were denied a final run by a spin for Sergio Perez.
The two Britons started fourth and sixth, either side of the Red Bull driver, and they made their way past Perez in their second stint.
They had already cleared Carlos Sainz after a dreadful stop from the Ferrari crew, and they were on a different strategy to Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc out front.
Having stopped onto Hards from the Mediums, Hamilton and Russell were going to the ed of the race, whereas Verstappen and Leclerc had to stop again.
The Monegasque made his stop and fallen back behind the Mercedes cars, but Verstappen was afforded a cheap stop then the Virtual Safety Car was deployed.
The full Safety Car emerged towards the end, allowing Verstappen to change onto a set of Softs, while Hamilton stayed out on his used Mediums.
The seven-time champion had not yet observed that Verstappen had come into the pits in front of him, so when he saw Russell pit for Softs, he thought it was in a bid to hunt down the Dutchman for the win.
However, he then realised that Verstappen was behind him on fresh Softs having also pitted, so the hunter had become the hunted, and his heart sank.
The 103-time race winner was passed by Verstappen, Russell and Leclerc as a win slipped away.
“We were closing up to the Red Bull, then the Safety Car came out,” explained Hamilton in conversation with NOS.
“And that took away the advantage that we had, and the plan that we had.
“I was in the lead, we had to come through the pit lane, and I saw the guys ready to stop with soft tyres, but it wasn’t for me.
“It was quite confusing because in that moment; I didn’t know that Max had stopped, I hadn’t realised that they had stopped.
“I thought they were just stopping George to attack Max or something like that, but then I found out they were all stopping and I was the only one who hadn’t, so that was tough.
“And then, just to see it slip through my fingers… it’s been such a long time since we won, and it was painful.”
Hamilton told the team over the radio that they had “screwed” him, but having calmed down, he puts the outburst down to understandably high emotions.
“I regret the things I said on the radio, but it was just emotion! In the heat of the moment, there’s no controlling it,” he added.
“But, rather than looking at [the glass] half empty, I like to look at it [as a] half full glass.
“We were fighting for a win, we were quicker than most today, and the car felt fantastic.
“We did such great pit stops, we were really on point as a team today, so we’ll take that forwards.”
The 37-year-old asserted that Mercedes’ first win of the year will arrive in the final seven rounds of the season if they maintain their current performance.
“I hope so!” said Hamilton, when asked if the end of the year will be fun.
“If it’s like this – I hope it’s like this for the rest of the season – if it is, then we’re going to get that win at some stage.
“We’ll keep just breathing down their necks.”
Hamilton is looking to continue his record of winning a race in every Formula 1 season he has contested in his illustrious career.