Wolff says “subpar” strategy ruined the races of Hamilton and Russell at F1 Dutch GP

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As the second half of the season got underway at the Dutch Grand Prix, the rain made its presence felt at the Zandvoort circuit, altering the planned strategies. Qualifying was very unexpected and with surprising results, Lewis Hamilton didn’t make it out of Q2 and both Williams were able to get into Q3. Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and George Russell topped qualifying with high expectations for the race results for Red Bull of course, but also for Mercedes and McLaren.

On Sunday, however, circumstances changed and neither Brackley nor Woking had the expected results.

Photo: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team

Russell started third on the grid and finished 17th, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton started 13th and managed a 6th place finish. But what happened to the Toto Wolff-led team?

Well, it was because they underestimated the intensity of the rain, causing both the King’s Lynn native and the seven-time world champion to fall back through the order, as the German team decided that the drivers should stay on track on slicks, but when the rain started to fall harder in the opening laps, the grid order was hugely shuffled. This greatly affected Mercedes, as well as McLaren and Williams.

Toto Wolff spoke out on Sky about it and explained that this was a miscommunication and not a situation where anyone specific could be singled out:

“I think we stayed out catastrophically too long. We got it completely wrong. We will review thoroughly.

“The situation is never one person or one department. It is the communications between driver, pit wall, strategy, weather and then all of us taking decisions. That was absolutely subpar from all of us, and that includes me. It’s good when it hurts. When it stings, it sticks.”

Much of the team principal’s anger was because this weekend’s car was competitive and he argued that Russell could have been on the podium and Hamilton could easily have overtaken Sainz:

“It’s annoying because the car had really [good] pace. And then, from there on it was just recovering as good as we could.

“We saw at the end on the intermediates George had Max’s pace and Lewis was very strong behind [Ferrari’s Carlos] Sainz. We could have been much further ahead.”

The 51-year-old Austrian commented that although it is painful, he would rather have good pace, a competitive car and a mediocre result:

“I’d rather have good pace, a fast race car and a mediocre result even if it hurts,” he conceded. “But it’s still bittersweet because the result is just really bad. It could have been, but that doesn’t count in our sport.”

Just when Hamilton was one point away from overtaking Fernando Alonso for P3 in the Drivers’ Championship, Mercedes’ mistake and Aston Martin’s improvements saw the Spaniard take another podium finish and move 12 points clear of his former teammate. Going into the Italian Grand Prix, the Brackley team is 40 points clear of Aston Martin.