Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Red Bull and Max Verstappen were “just too quick” in Zandvoort across the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix weekend.
Hamilton topped FP1 from Verstappen by 0.097s but a power unit issue in FP2 saw the Brit miss majority of the session, which proved costly as Verstappen went on to dominate Saturday’s action and Sunday’s race despite Mercedes trying a respective split three and two-stop strategy with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Reflecting on his race to Mercedes’ official website after finishing second, Hamilton said: ” I gave it everything I had out there, but they were just too quick for us this weekend.
“I think even if we’d have got everything right today with the traffic, the pit stops and the strategy, it’d still have been tough to get by them.”
Discussing the high-speed nature of the track and physical plus mental demands of the body, Hamilton added: “It was an incredibly difficult race out there, physically and mentally I think it was one of the toughest, but it’s an amazing track.”
Hamilton though has vowed to review his race performance with Mercedes and come back “fighting right to the end.”
Bottas meanwhile endured a quiet race in third despite briefly leading on a long first stint as he tried backing Verstappen into Hamilton’s grasp, only for his efforts to prove futile as Verstappen got past on Lap 31 and sprinted off unchallenged to victory.
Reflecting on his “quiet race”, Bottas admitted that he was happy to secure “solid points” which lifted him to third in the drivers’ standings.
Explaining his decision to opt for a one-stop strategy, Bottas said: “I was pushing hard out there but we committed to the one-stop strategy quite early on, and that needed too much management really and proved tricky. It definitely wasn’t as fast as the two-stop.”
Bottas eventually was forced onto a two-stopper for “safety” reasons due to “tyre vibrations” but noted that Mercedes simply “were lacking a bit of speed here compared to Red Bull”, yet expects Monza next weekend (10-12 September) to hopefully suit their car more given their dominance at the Italian circuit.
Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton and Bottas’ thoughts as he applauded Verstappen for a “faultless” performance, whilst admitting that it was “difficult” to even try and compete with them despite attempting the “undercut” strategy twice with Hamilton.
Wolff however is keen to see “another close weekend and an exciting fight” at Monza despite Italy proving to be Red Bull’s bogey country in this hybrid era, with just one podium which instead came at Mugello with Alex Albon last season rather than Monza specifically.