Lewis Hamilton considers his recovery to sixth in the Dutch Grand Prix “redemption” but insists he “had the pace” to score a podium.
Having started a lowly 13th after struggling during qualifying, Hamilton’s efforts to claw his way back through the pack were offset by an early strategy mistake.
While most drivers rushed to discard their slick tyres when the rain intensified at the end of Lap 1, Mercedes opted to keep its drivers out, resulting in Hamilton and George Russell plummeting to the rear of the field.
While Hamilton was satisfied to eventually salvage sixth, the seven-time World Champion is confident that he could have climbed further up without the error.
“It didn’t start off that well but I’m happy with the drive that I did to get back into the points and get sixth,” Hamilton commented.
“But it could have been higher, for sure, if we had made the right decision at the end of the day.”
Hamilton was left stunned by his troubles in qualifying after enjoying a positive Friday at Zandvoort, lamenting that he was “just slow”.
However, he was pleased to put his issues behind him, explaining that he was able to get his W14 in a better window on race day.
He later added: “I feel like today was redemption in a sense that it was terrible yesterday and I’ve managed to dial the car in a bit better today.
“I overtook a bunch of people and to start 13th, I was dead last at one time, so to get back up to sixth, I’m happy with that.”
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14. 27.08.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Netherlands, Race Day.
Hamilton says the decision to avoid immediately switching to the Intermediates derived from Mercedes warning him the shower would only last momentarily.
When asked if he received the same information Russell proclaimed was the turning point in his race coming undone, Hamilton replied: “Yep. Same information.”
Another heavier deluge in the closing stages saw Zhou Guanyu crash, causing a relatively lengthy stoppage before the race was eventually completed in damp conditions.
Despite pressuring Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari in the final laps, Hamilton was unable to gain further places, eventually settling for sixth.
“The tyres were good. Just Sainz was slow and it was hard to get past him. But that’s racing,” he acknowledged.
But with Hamilton asserting he was matching the pace of race winner Max Verstappen, he believes Mercedes squandered a possible podium on Sunday.
Pressed on whether he could have fought for a top-three position, Hamilton said: “It’s hard to know. Today I think I had the pace, I was on pace with Max in the race but we were out of position.
“I don’t know how the car will be on low downforce at the next race [Monza].”