When teammate George Russell, also on fresh red tyres, passes the defenseless record world champion, Hamilton finally bursts out: “I can’t believe you fucked me. I can’t even say how pissed off *** I am,” radioed the Brit to the Mercedes command post. Hamilton then falls behind Ferrari star Charles Leclerc and is not even on the podium in the end.
Hamilton cooks under his helmet, so he prefers to leave his head protection on in the parc fermé for the time being. The brief self-isolation seems to help: When the Brit appears in front of the press a little later, the world looks different again: “I don’t apologize for my passion, because that’s just how I am. But I don’t always get it right and it I’m sorry for the team for what I said,” explains Hamilton.
Team boss Toto Wolff understands his star pilot’s outburst anyway. “We’re kind of the driver’s trash can. He’s sitting alone in the cockpit, is very emotional and then he throws up,” explains Wolff. The Viennese can understand Hamilton’s anger: “It was the right call, but unfortunately he went totally against Lewis in the end. But we took the risk of winning. His medium tires were only five laps old and we were in position the track. The alternative would have been to give that up, but then we’re only second and third, so it was worth trying.”
Alone: Teammate Russell doesn’t feel comfortable on the medium tires, so he stops again. For ex-Mercedes driver and world champion Nico Rosberg, this is where the team’s mistake lies: “If you take the risk with Lewis, then you do it right. Then you leave George out as a wingman so that Max can stop and Lewis up front the necessary one buys time,” demands Rosberg. “It could never work the way they did it. I think something went wrong there.”
His former stable mate and silver enemy can understand that Hamilton then freaks out on the radio: “It was a double horror for him: First he was overtaken by Max, then his teammate came flying. That’s really not a nice feeling, especially when you the way he dominated the whole weekend,” says Rosberg.
Hamilton himself explains his frustration: “I thought: ‘Wow, we’re really fighting for the win here.’ But then the safety car came and I got emotional because I knew we lost it, I knew that before the restart because everyone behind me had soft tires and I knew I had no chance behind them to hold me.”
Despite the bitter pill at the end, the seven-time champion wants to leave Zandvoort with his head held high: “The whole year was such a rollercoaster ride, but this was such a good race. The car felt better than ever this year,” says Hamilton. “That’s why I prefer to look at the glass half full. There are so many positives that we can take away from here, because if the car feels like this in the next few races, we’ll be fighting for victory again.”
Team manager Wolff believes so too. “Absolutely,” answers the Viennese when asked whether the Silver Arrows will still be able to win a race in 2022. “Today we were a little closer (than before; ed.), then it’s a bit more fun.” Closing words from Wolff: “We’ll keep trying.” Maybe next time Hamilton won’t be the “Gef*****”.