Once again, Max Verstappen was the first to cross the finish line at the Circuit Zandvoort to win the Dutch Grand Prix. With just eight races left this season, Verstappen is almost guaranteed to win the world title for the second year straight as he is now more than 100 points clear at the top spot.
But Verstappen’s victory could be credited to a strategy failure on the part of Mercedes, which also cost them their first win of the season. Seven-time world championship winner, Lewis Hamilton looked set to win the race with just 20 laps to go. But the failure of Mercedes to change his tyres after a safety car did not give him the edge to be able to compete with Red Bull’s Verstappen during the remaining laps of the race. Mercedes instead chose to pit George Russell, who ended up finishing second. Hamilton ended up finishing fourth after Charles Leclerc finished came third.
The whole episode was infuriating for Hamilton, and he let out an outburst during the race, which he has now apologized for, saying, “I was just on the edge of breaking point with emotions. My apologies to the team because I don’t even remember what I said. I just lost it for a second.” His team later explained that the decision to pit Russell instead of him was a calculated risk and that they were ‘screwed’ no matter the decision they took.
Hamilton is yet to win a race this season, and there are almost no chances of him winning the title this year. The British driver has had a very challenging season that has seen him finish without points or not even finish at all sometimes, like last week at the Belgian GP, when he crashed at the first lap.
Unlike during the start of the season when he was having issues with the car, which affected his performance, Sunday’s failure was basically a strategy issue. This means with the right strategy employee, Hamilton’s first victory might be just around the corner.