Lewis Hamilton admits missing out on so much running in FP2 was costly after he missed out on pole position to Max Verstappen at the Dutch Grand Prix by just 0.038s.
Verstappen had looked quickest throughout much of the weekend and appeared set for a comfortable pole during qualifying until the final runs in Q3 when Hamilton came extremely close to topping the home favorite. Having stopped on track with a power unit issue in FP2 and missed plenty of running at a track Formula 1 hasn’t raced on for over 30 years, the championship leader says it hurt his chances of taking pole.
“Max did an amazing lap and I was so close,” Hamilton said. “Obviously, with yesterday’s session missed, made it a little bit more difficult of a day but I gave it absolutely everything. He did a fantastic lap and deserves the pole.
“Max has been incredibly fast through the first sector and that’s been an area we’ve been really working hard at improving the car — the balance overnight and through P3 into qualifying — and just slowly chipping away at it. It’s a circuit where you need to continually chip away and build that confidence.
“The lap, particularly the second and third sector, the third sector was on the edge — you should have seen the last corner, there wasn’t any road left — so I was really really happy with it. I think it’s great we were able to get that close because they pulled quite far ahead at one point pace-wise but I still think if we had another session, again, we’d all go quicker and there’s more time to find.”
Starting from second, Hamilton says he expects the first lap and strategy to be the deciding factors during the race, given how tricky it appears to be for F1 cars to follow closely on.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s a difficult circuit to overtake — I think strategy will come into it a lot. We haven’t seen a crowd like this in a while so it’s really, really great to see so many people here and I hope the track helps us provide a good race. It’s a very tough circuit, which makes it so fantastic to drive.
“I haven’t done any long running so I don’t really know too much of what the track is like with heavy fuel. I only have my reference from 2005 (in F3) and I don’t remember that. No doubt it’s going to be tough tomorrow, just from watching these guys. Max and his team were quicker than us, I think, on the long run. It’s not a track that you can particularly overtake on so it’s going to be down to strategy tomorrow. The start will be fun.”