Lewis Hamilton insists his confidence in Mercedes has not been affected by the strategic error and mechanical failure he suffered in the Austrian Grand Prix.
While Valtteri Bottas started on pole, Hamilton took the lead at Turn 1 and looked well placed for victory until his teammate retired with a loss of hydraulic pressure, bringing out a Virtual Safety Car. Mercedes failed to pit Hamilton while both Red Bull and Ferrari drivers switched to soft tires, and the error dropped the championship leader to fourth. Having been passed by Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton then retired himself with a fuel pressure problem.
Despite the nightmare race, Hamilton says the difficulties at the Red Bull Ring should not overshadow Mercedes’ usual standards.
“An unfortunate day,” Hamilton said. “Everyone is the team is really feeling the pain today but I think you just have to look at it — we’ve had such great reliability for so many years and as painful as it is, and we are perfectionists, we really have to take the rough with the smooth.
“This is definitely the worst weekend for us I can remember for a long, long time. I have every confidence in my team that we’ll be able to bounce back.
“I’m not going to lie: All areas we are going to have to work on. The car has been great all weekend. We were the quickest and to have two different faults on each car… very unusual but we really can’t throw away points.
“We’ve got to find a bulletproof method to move forward for strategy. If our car was still going it was an easy win for us. We were comfortably ahead but we will work on it and will try to re-evaluate to come back stronger for the next race.
“Right now I’m feeling like I’ve just lost a grand prix, I’ve just lost 25 points, so it’s not a great feeling. For all of us it’s like we took a few steps forward and then slid 10 back. I just fell back again behind Sebastian [in the championship] and there has been a lot of points lost this year.
“It’s been a really tough weekend and a tough day for our team, but we have to stay strong for each other and regroup and try to come back stronger next week.”
With Mercedes strategist James Vowles taking to team radio to apologize to Hamilton during the race, the Briton says he is not angry at the strategic error but wants to see improvements in future.
“I saw him in the garage, we had a hug. As always, he was brutally honest with himself and with everyone and we could have all done a better job this weekend. It’s very rare and incredibly unusual for us to have these two DNFs in one weekend. A real shame because we had a great car and were looking very strong, but we will live to fight another day.
“I don’t know what to say. I’ve not had time to look at it and I’ve just come from the garage, so I don’t really understand. We have a lot of strategists and so many things go on, so how we can make those sorts of errors … but James put his hands up and said it was his call and we will try to analyze it and figure out how we can improve. We have lost a lot of points this year either through bad calls or reliability.”