Lewis Hamilton says he will work with Mercedes to understand “where we have gone wrong on both ends” after failing to pit under the Virtual Safety Car period which effectively cost him victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

After his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas suffered a hydraulics failure on lap 13 it triggered a Virtual Safety Car to ensure the Finn’s car was safely removed from the Red Bull Ring circuit.

Hamilton, who had been leading at the time, had the option to pit under the VSC but was not instructed to by the team’s chief strategist James Vowles but after seeing both Red Bull and Ferrari double stack their cars in the pits it quickly became clear not pitting would backfire.

Hamilton’s gap to Verstappen had been eight seconds before the VSC but after pitting the gap had only expanded to 13 seconds – while a pit stop under normal race conditions would take around 20 seconds.

Driver Ratings - Austrian GP

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The vital error soon became clear as Hamilton was asked to find eight seconds to extend his gap to Verstappen on older tyres but Mercedes quickly aborted that tactic to focus on damage limitation.

After the British driver pitted he had dropped from first to fourth leading to Hamilton venting his frustrations at the team on his radio but following the race he was focused on resolving the error ahead of future races.

“We have to definitely work hard to try to understand where we have gone wrong on both ends,” Hamilton said after the race, having failed to finish due to a fuel pressure issue. “I know there is a lot of pain but we have to try to take out the positives that we were the quickest, we should have won and we will keep working hard.

“Ultimately the guys on the pit wall you have to put 100 percent faith in. They have the full picture and all I can see is the guy in front of me and the guy behind me. In those circumstances, you have to rely fully on the pit wall.”

Hamilton says he holds nothing against Vowles for the error, with the Mercedes chief strategist publicly apologising over team radio for the mistake, and is eager to move on from the nightmare race for the German manufacturer.

“I saw him [Vowles] in the garage, we had a hug,” he said. “As always, he was brutally honest with himself and with everyone and we could have all done a better job this weekend. A real shame because we had a great car and were looking very strong, but we will live to fight another day.”

Hamilton’s first DNF for 33 races sees him lose the F1 world championship lead by one point to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, while Mercedes now trails the Italian manufacturer by 10 points in the world constructors’ standings.

6 reasons why F1 needs Lewis Hamilton %7C Crash.net

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