Lewis Hamilton felt front row start was possible at Dutch GP

ZANDVOORT, Netherlands – Lewis Hamilton felt he could have set up a tantalising start alongside 2021 title rival Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix as Mercedes bounced back to form.

Last week Mercedes languished off the pace at the Belgian Grand Prix but has been in the mix with Red Bull and Ferrari across practice and qualifying.

Hamilton will start Sunday’s race from fourth but he felt a spot at the front of the grid was on the cards were it not for the timing of a yellow flag at the end of qualifying when Sergio Perez spun at the final corner, forcing the drivers behind him to slow during their flying lap.

The seven-time world champion was amazed at how different his car felt to last week.

“It’s like a mood swing,” Hamilton said of his car on Saturday. “Like the characteristics of a human being, you don’t know what side of the bed you’re going to get out of!”

He added: “Much happier coming into this weekend, to have a car that’s potentially fighting but I just don’t understand. One weekend it can be so far off and the next weekend all of a sudden we’re right there, so it’s confusing for sure.

“But lots of positives to take from today. And I think if we hadn’t had the yellow flag would have been hopefully, potentially fighting for the front rows. So that’s really positive. And I hope that, the deficit that we normally have, even though we close the deficit in a single lap, if that can then reflect to our race pace, that’d be awesome.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team had felt a much stronger result was on the cards before the incident.

“On our on car data, and we have looked at it a lot, we were actually 0.1s up before the incident. Now, we don’t know how we would have come out of it but we were definitely aiming for pole position, and that’s a good feeling – we want more. I think we could have been there or thereabouts.”

Hamilton’s teammate George Russell agreed that Mercedes has the pace to fight for a podium.

“Max and Red Bull are too quick for us, our fight is with Ferrari at the moment.

“I see no reason why we can’t battle for a podium, we just need a clean stat, not lose any positions to the midfield drivers and go from there.”

Hamilton said he’s had a good reception so far from the largely Verstappen-supporting crowd.

“When I got out of the car there I waved to the crowd and everyone waved. So far been good. It’s a great crowd here and it’s a beautiful place to be here, the weather’s great.”

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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