CAROL’S CORNER: Lewis Hamilton makes the best of a bad weekend

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Carol M. Creasey

The first race after the summer break was the Dutch Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton came back fully energised and recharged, and it seemed in first free practice that he had a lot more confidence in his car. 

By Free Practice 3, after setup changes, and variable weather conditions, he stated that he hoped to be fighting for a front row start on qualifying day. However, on Saturday things did not go according to plan. Firstly he was blocked on his fast lap by Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, and after Q1, a further blocking by Yuki Tsunoda prevented him from making it out of Q2, so he had to start the race from 13th place. George Russell managed to qualify in 3rd place.

When questioned afterwards, Lewis did not blame anyone else, but said his tyres had overheated after a couple of fast laps, and he did not have enough time to change them and try again. Toto Wolff, however, was very vocal in blaming the drivers that had impeded Lewis throughout quali.

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Everyone except Lewis started the race on Soft tyres, and he was on Mediums. Shortly after the start, the rain set in, and it was raining very hard. Mercedes believed the rain  would only last  a few minutes, so they advised both of their drivers to tough it out. But the rain kept going, and they were not called in to change their tyres quickly enough, and ended up at the back of the grid. The person who benefitted the most from getting things right was Sergio Perez, and at the time it gave him the lead of the race.

So the task for Lewis and George was to work their way up the grid, which they did twice, Lewis got to 5th and Russell made it to 7th. Lewis was delighted to overtake Norris for his 5th position, having noted that the McLaren was a very fast car. In the meantime Perez was brought in for a pit stop, which allowed Verstappen to take the lead of the race.

Later in the race, after Alonso had overtaken him to claim 2nd, Perez ditched his car into the gravel. Following a red flag period, triggered by heavy rain which caused Zhou Guanyu to crash, the Mexican was sanctioned with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which dropped him to P4 at the end of the race.

When the race was restarted, Lewis had to revert to 6th place, as this was his position the lap before the red flag came out. In the meantime, After a light contact between Russell and Norris, George’s car picked up a puncture, and he was forced to retire. Lewis continued to fight Carlos Sainz, who managed to keep his P5 all the way to the chequered flag. Verstappen won the race, with Alonso in P2 and Gasly in P3.

When interviewed afterwards, Lewis rued the mistake they made as a team in not pitting for wet tyres earlier, saying he had good pace, and felt he could have given the front two drivers a good fight. One good thing to note is the fact that Mercedes’ pace seems to be improving all the time. We will see if that continues to be the case next weekend at the Italian Grand Prix.

Be sure to follow Carol on Twitter @eagertogo and visit her website!

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