Lewis Hamilton said he “paid the price” for Mercedes’ strategy blunder at the start of Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Following a first-lap downpour in Zandvoort, Mercedes were too slow to put both Hamilton and team-mate George Russell on the intermediate tyres.
The poorly-timed stops left Hamilton and Russell – who was third on the grid – 13th and 17th when the order shuffled out.
💬 An honest reflection on a tricky day. Toto talks through what went wrong at the start and the performance learnings gained towards the end of the race. pic.twitter.com/EFV2TUNx4o
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 27, 2023
“We should have pitted, but we didn’t, and we paid the price for that,” said Hamilton who eventually crossed the line sixth as Max Verstappen claimed his ninth win in succession.
“Today I had the pace, and I was on pace with Max, but we were just out of position.
“I was pretty happy with my drive to back into the points. I got sixth. But it could have been higher, for sure.”
Sergio Perez started seventh but assumed the lead of the race after he was called in by his quick-thinking Red Bull team on the first lap.
With the rain still falling, Verstappen, quite rightly, stopped the next time round but Russell stayed out on the slick rubber despite the worsening conditions.
Hamilton, who started 13th, was also sent round for another lap despite the seven-time world champion’s obvious concerns.
“We should have come in, man,” said Hamilton over the radio. “It is very wet.”
“Copy, Lewis,” said his race engineer Peter Bonnington. “We’re going to stay out. We’re going to have to brave this.”
But at the end of the third lap, Hamilton was in for wet tyres. He rejoined the track in last place.
Russell was still sliding around on slicks before he was changed on to the wet rubber at the end of lap four.
“I was forecast a podium,” said Russell on the radio. “F***, how did we mess this up?”
Russell was classified 17th after he collided with Norris in the closing stages and sustained a left-rear puncture.
“The race was over before it really got started,” said the 25-year-old Englishman. “The information we got about the weather was totally wrong.
“We thought the rain would last a couple of minutes but it clearly lasted for longer. It was a real shame. A podium was missed.
“As a team we need to review because we are getting the information coming into us and it was misjudging the weather. It is not anything to do with racing or engineering. It was just a weather misinterpretation and that ruined our afternoon.
“So we need to look into that, to see why the others decided to pit and what information they had that we didn’t, and make sure we don’t make the same mistake again.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said: “That was a difficult day for us. In the opening 15 laps, we got pretty much everything wrong that we could have done – and that cost us any chance of fighting for the podium. We will review thoroughly.”