Lewis Hamilton claims Mercedes stopped him from fighting Max Verstappen

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has failed to win a grand prix since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, despite a challenging race, maintains that he possessed the race pace to contend with Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix. 

A combination of a lacklustre qualifying performance and untimely strategy decisions, however, hindered his opportunity for victory.

Hamilton’s performance at Zandvoort resulted in a sixth-place finish, an outcome that belied his race pace potential. 

The race’s opening laps saw Hamilton drop to the back of the pack due to a delay by the Mercedes pit wall in initiating a switch to wet weather tires.

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Undeterred, Hamilton embarked on a determined recovery through the field, overtaking competitors such as Lando Norris in the McLaren and challenging Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari during the race’s final stages.

Throughout the race, Hamilton found himself navigating through traffic, limiting his ability to gauge his performance against Verstappen, who commanded the majority of the 72 laps. 

However, before heavy rain struck the track on lap 60, Hamilton exhibited competitive lap times on similarly-aged soft tires, closely matching the pace of the race leader.

Reflecting on the race, Hamilton shared his perspective on his performance and potential outcomes. 

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He acknowledged, “Today I had the pace, in those conditions if we made the right [strategy] calls, I could have challenged the top two.”

Hamilton emphasised the possibility of challenging Verstappen had circumstances aligned favourably. 

He elaborated, “We would have challenged Max, particularly when we got to the dry pace-wise we weren’t terribly far off. 

“I’m not saying we would have beat them, but I think we would have been happy. 

“It’s still nice if you think that way.”

The Dutch Grand Prix weekend posed challenges for Hamilton from the outset, with a 13th-place start following a qualifying session marred by Yuki Tsunoda’s obstruction. 

Tsunoda’s impeding manoeuvre denied Hamilton the opportunity to take the dry line on his fastest lap, resulting in a missed chance to progress to Q3.

Hamilton’s perspective on the outcome of the race, however, conveyed a sense of satisfaction with his performance over the weekend. 

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He noted, “Yeah, I feel like today was redemption in a sense that it was terrible yesterday and I’ve managed to dial the car in a bit better today.”

In light of his comeback from a 13th-place start to a sixth-place finish, Hamilton expressed contentment with his achievements. 

He commented, “I overtook a bunch of people and to start 13th, I was dead last at one time, so to get back up to sixth, I’m happy with that.”