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Formula 1 Dutch GP

Hamilton "had the pace to challenge Verstappen" in F1 Dutch GP comeback drive

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says he had the pace to challenge winner Max Verstappen after coming through the field to finish sixth in Formula 1's rain-affected Dutch Grand Prix.

Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, leads Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

On Sunday, Hamilton recovered from a disappointing qualifying session by moving from a lowly 13th grid spot to sixth.

But the seven-time world champion's race could have been a lot better if he and Mercedes hadn't been on the wrong side of an early pitstop call.

Rain arrived right after the start of the Zandvoort race, with the Mercedes drivers among the cars staying out too long on slicks, which turned out to be the wrong decision as the track conditions became progressively worse.

Hamilton's recovery from the back of the field to sixth and his pace in both dry and wet conditions made him believe that he could have challenged Verstappen up front.

"In those conditions, if we'd made the right call, I had the pace to be challenging the top two," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.

"I think we would have been challenging Max if I'm really honest.

"Particularly when we got to the dry, pace-wise I think we weren't terribly far off. I'm not saying that we'd beat them, but I think we would have been [close]."

Speaking separately to the written press, including Motorsport.com, Hamilton said Sunday's race felt like "redemption" after taking the wrong direction on his W14's set-up on Friday night, which wasn't rectified in time for qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, makes a stop

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, makes a stop

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"I feel like today was redemption, in the sense of it was terrible yesterday, we managed to dial the car in a bit better today and overtook a bunch of people," Hamilton said.

"I think today I had the pace. I was on pace with Max in the race, we were just out of position," he added.

"To start 13th, I was dead last at one point, to get back up to sixth, yeah, happy with that."

While Hamilton moved forward, team-mate George Russell travelled in the other direction after late contact pitted him down to a distant 17th.

Russell's side of the garage too took the wrong decisions at the start, staying out on softs even longer than Hamilton.

He lost up to 20 seconds per lap at one point, finally relenting for a late pitstop when he was already one minute in arrears and dumped out of the top 10.

Russell said his team had the "totally wrong" information on the weather, as it thought the rain at the start wouldn't be persistent enough to warrant a stop to intermediates.

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"The race was over before it really got started," he lamented. "I think the information we had regarding the weather was totally wrong and we thought the rain was going to last for a couple of minutes.

"It clearly lasted for longer, so that was a real shame. A podium was missed."

Russell too recovered during the dry middle phase of the race. But following a late downpour the race was red-flagged and at the subsequent restart, Russell made contact with McLaren's Lando Norris which deflated one of his tyres.

"We made a good recovery and then just a contact with Lando, an unfortunate racing incident, causing the puncture," Russell explained. "So yeah, disappointing but good that we had a fast race car."

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