漢密爾頓被帶到了 "崩潰點",勝利悄然而至

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漢密爾頓被帶到了 "崩潰點",勝利悄然而至

劉易斯-漢密爾頓承認,在看到他認為有可能在荷蘭大獎賽上取得的勝利從他手中被奪走之後,他被逼到了 "情緒崩潰的邊緣"。

當安全車晚期的一個策略決定讓漢密爾頓處於領先位置,但在維斯塔潘面前不堪一擊--就像他去年在阿布扎比的冠軍決戰中一樣--對這位七屆冠軍來說,這一切都變得不堪一擊。

他在無線電中對他的團隊大發雷霆,對當時感覺像是丟掉了一個機會的事情大發牢騷。

阻止漢密爾頓和隊友喬治-拉塞爾進入最後10圈比賽的兩個安全車時段中的一個是在涉及紅牛兄弟車隊的可疑情況下發生的,這只會使這些情緒更加強烈。

下了車,腎上腺素不再湧入他的體內,漢密爾頓道歉了。

"我甚至不記得我說了什麼,"漢密爾頓說。"我只是在一瞬間失去了它。但我想他們知道,有這麼多的激情。

"我想把它看成一個半滿的杯子。我們從上一場比賽中來到這裡掙扎。我們與紅牛隊作戰。我們在很多地方都比大多數人快。

"有很多偉大的事情可以從中獲得。車子終於開始工作了。如果在未來的比賽中也能如此,我們將繼續在他們的脖子上呼吸,我們將獲得勝利。"

如果他們的比賽在沒有安全車的情況下進行呢?

一周前,在高速的斯帕,梅賽德斯已經脫離了它的 "甜蜜點"。在贊德福特,一個要求更高的下壓力的賽道,並且有不同的彎道組合,它又回到了這個位置。

在維斯塔潘的隊友塞爾吉奧-佩雷斯在排位賽結束時打滑,使兩位梅賽德斯車手無法完成最後一圈之前,漢密爾頓有機會獲得杆位。

正如漢密爾頓所指出的。"我在最後一個彎道前一直是杆位,我比麥克斯高出0.07秒。他們在直道上更快,所以即使我比他們更快地通過彎道,很可能他也會在終點線上超過我。但這仍然是一個巨大的積極因素,然後我們的比賽節奏似乎更好,或者說和大家一樣好。"

在賽前戰略簡報會上,梅賽德斯同意,如果能給他們帶來勝利的機會,他們將承擔風險。他們以這種心態對待下午的比賽,並在此基礎上做出每一個決定。

他們承諾在比賽中只停一次車,而其他大部分人都是停兩次。

隨着各種策略的實施,比賽進入最後三分之一,維斯塔潘領先於漢密爾頓和拉塞爾,但荷蘭人不得不再次停車,而梅賽德斯車手則沒有。

如果比賽繼續進行,沒有警戒期,維斯塔潘將進站並降至第三。使用軟胎,而梅賽德斯使用硬胎,他必須趕上並超過兩輛梅賽德斯才能獲勝。

"當我[在第一次進站後]換上中胎時,他們[在長時間的第一節]仍有很好的圈速,"維斯塔潘說。

"然後,當他們換到硬地時,我很感興趣地看到他們的速度。我想:'那是相當快。我試着推高一點。他們能做到這一點非常令人驚訝。我知道最後可能會以策略的方式變得很接近。"

維斯塔彭能做到嗎?梅賽德斯的策略預測說他會落後8秒。計算機說,情況會很接近,但他們估計維斯塔潘還是會贏--但不容易。

對梅賽德斯的第一個打擊是圍繞虛擬安全車發生的一系列奇怪的事件,涉及到津田勇樹的Alpha Tauri。

在補胎後,津野田在第44圈停在了賽道上,並通過無線電說有一個車輪丟失了。他解開腰帶,開始爬出來。不,車隊說,車輪都很好。繼續前進。

於是他慢慢開回了維修站。阿爾法-陶里把他綁好,又把他送了出去,結果他在賽道上停了下來,這次是真的。這需要官方部署虛擬安全車,以便將車移到一個安全的地方。

對維斯塔潘來說,這 "有點不幸",因為雖然虛擬安全車意味着進站的時間更短,但他仍然需要安裝新輪胎,所以紅牛不得不叫他進站。但對於一套軟胎來說還為時過早,所以他們安裝了硬胎,而維斯塔潘並不希望這樣做,因為他不喜歡這種輪胎的感覺。

在梅賽德斯看來,紅牛的姐妹車隊以一種極其奇怪的方式行事,給他們的領先車手帶來了很大的優勢,使他能夠進站並保持領先,而不是掉到第三。

"如果我們在為冠軍而戰,這將是我密切關注的事情。"梅賽德斯車隊老闆托托-沃爾夫說。

"現在我認為需要調查的是,為了車手和所有人的安全,車手停下來,解開安全帶,開了一整圈,進來後,問題沒有解決,他們重新繫上安全帶,他開出去後又把車停下來,這可能改變了一場比賽的結果,而我們也許本可以贏得比賽。"

賽事監管人員確實對這一事件進行了調查--並對津野田在解開安全帶的情況下駕車返回維修站進行了譴責。他們似乎沒有調查Alpha Tauri的行為。發言人說,"沒有證據 "表明有任何不當行為,並指出國際汽聯可以接觸到大量的數據和所有車隊的通信。

不過,這並不是梅賽德斯的希望的終點。梅賽德斯也在VSC下停了下來,換上了新的中型輪胎。當比賽重新開始時,維斯塔潘領先漢密爾頓15.4秒。但是,正如他所擔心的那樣,他與硬胎的關係並不融洽,漢密爾頓開始逼近。

六圈後,還剩16圈時,差距降至10.7秒。漢密爾頓的勝利又來了嗎?在紅牛車隊,維斯塔潘認為不是。他說:"VSC之後的差距仍然很大,足以應付,"他說。

還有一個轉折,瓦爾特里-博塔斯的引擎出現故障,他的阿爾法-羅密歐停在了大直道上。安全車。

維斯塔彭再次進站,換上了軟胎。起初,梅賽德斯讓兩輛賽車都使用他們的輕質輪胎,所以他們又短暫地成為一二名,維斯塔潘排名第三。

但是安全車帶領車隊進了維修站,羅素說他想要軟胎,因為他能感覺到軟胎在褪色。這一改變使他回到了維斯塔潘後面。沒有更換輪胎的漢密爾頓仍然處於領先位置,但他現在沒有緩衝。

沃爾夫說。"我們的想法是,我們有一個中型輪胎,上面有五個比賽圈和賽道位置,我們做出了這個決定。

"我不認為在相同輪胎的情況下,我們可以超越紅牛的直線速度。我們看到[法拉利的卡洛斯]塞恩斯在開始的時候,他的速度較慢,我們沒有辦法超過他。所以這就是我們的決定。

"每一天,我寧願冒着一切風險去贏得比賽,而不是鞏固第二和第三。"

漢密爾頓知道他有麻煩了,他在無線電中說很難在後面拖住使用軟木的車手,事實也證明了這一點。維斯塔彭在重新開始後的第一個彎道就超過了他。

拉塞爾說。"我們做了一個大膽的決定,要去爭取勝利。如果我們都進站,我們就會把位置讓給馬克斯。如果我們都不進站,我們可能也會輸給馬克斯。最好的機會就是分出勝負,而我們就在這裡。"

事後看來,梅賽德斯認為正確的做法是讓兩位車手都停下來,因為漢密爾頓不僅輸給了維斯塔潘,還輸給了拉塞爾和勒克萊爾。

但與此同時,他們也不能把發生的事情考慮進去。漢密爾頓在賽後沒有承認,但他犯了一個錯誤。他在重新啟動時,發動機處於錯誤的模式。這就是為什麼維斯塔潘這麼快就發現很容易超越--漢密爾頓的動力不足。

這個個人錯誤幾乎可以解釋漢密爾頓的部分髒話爆發--他討厭犯錯。

"我真的以為我們將為勝利而戰,"漢密爾頓說。"終於到了,在我們的掌握之中,然後安全車出來了,完全搞砸了我們,然後我坐在那裡,我在領先,但我知道無論我得到多麼好的重新啟動,我都不能把他們留在後面。

"看到它從我的指縫中溜走,我的情緒一下子爆發了,所以向我的團隊道歉。但我不想為我的激情而道歉--有時就是這樣的。

"但這個周末有很多積極因素可以借鑑。我們終於在那裡與紅色公牛隊作戰,那是一種偉大的、偉大的感覺,我想把這種感覺帶向未來。"

梅賽德斯能否在剩下的七場比賽中獲得那難以捉摸的勝利?

拉塞爾認為他們正處在風口浪尖上,他說。"法拉利在車隊和車手的P2位置上都在我們的視線範圍內,但我們的目標是贏得一場比賽,看到我們如何縮小差距,這很令人興奮。"

但他也很現實:"我認為我們今天有最快的車,但如果我們繼續在排位賽中如此落後,我們將無法爭取勝利。

"毫無疑問,我們有能夠贏得比賽的速度。歸根結底,這將取決於排位賽。我們需要在排位賽中找到更多的魔力。"

在所有梅賽德斯的戲劇中,維斯塔潘又取得了一場完美的勝利。法拉利車隊老闆馬蒂亞-比諾托承認,他擔心現在已經連續三場比賽沒有競爭力,而勒克萊爾實際上已經放棄了冠軍。

萊克勒克說:"紅牛目前是更快的車,特別是在比賽節奏上,"萊克勒克說。"在排位賽中,我們非常接近。梅賽德斯在比賽中似乎也獲得了一些速度。"

實際上,紅牛隻是不斷向前邁進,維斯塔潘說,他們一個賽季以來試圖減輕汽車重量的計劃對他來說已經改變了。

他說:"當法規改變時,你必須重新開始,"他說,"而這輛車並不完全符合我的要求。但是,汽車也相當重,減輕重量後,它都感覺更靈活了。"

在他手中,現在是全場最好的車,但車手的素質也不容置疑。

維斯塔彭說。"這在很大程度上要歸功於團隊。這也是劉易斯贏得冠軍的方式。你的車是超級重要的。但是,當你是一個出色的車手,就像劉易斯一樣,在非常關鍵的比賽中,你會比你的隊友更有優勢。

"對我來說,他最突出的一次是土耳其[2020年],當時天氣非常濕滑,保持冷靜不犯錯。你最終贏得了一場比賽。

"這就是優秀的車手所做的:與其他速度快但沒有那麼好的車手相比,他們做出了區別。

"賽車在F1中非常有優勢,但在隊友之間只有一個人能獲勝,這就是你必須做出改變的地方。"

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Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was driven to "the edge of breaking point with my emotions" after seeing what he believed was a possible win in the Dutch Grand Prix snatched from his grasp.

When a strategy decision during a late safety-car period left Hamilton in the lead, but vulnerable to Verstappen - much as he had been last year in the title decider in Abu Dhabi - it all became too much for the seven-time champion.

He swore at his team over the radio, railing at what in the heat of the moment felt like an opportunity thrown away.

That one of the two safety-car periods that prevented Hamilton and team-mate George Russell heading into the final 10 laps of the race running one-two came under suspicious circumstances involving Red Bull's sister team only made those emotions stronger.

Out of the car, the adrenaline no longer flooding through him, Hamilton apologised.

"I don't even remember what I said," Hamilton said. "I just lost it for a second. But I think they know that there is just so much passion.

"I want to look at it as a glass half-full. We came here struggling from the last race. We were fighting against the Red Bulls. We were quicker than most at many points.

"So many great things to take from it. The car was finally working. If this can be the same in the future races, we're going to be continuing to breathe down their necks and we're going to get that win."

What if they race had run without safety cars?

A week ago, at high-speed Spa, the Mercedes was out of its "sweet spot". In Zandvoort, a circuit demanding higher downforce, and with a different mix of corners, it was very much back in it.

Hamilton was in with a shout of pole, before Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez spun at the end of qualifying and prevented both Mercedes drivers completing their final laps.

As Hamilton pointed out: "I was pole until the last corner, I was 0.07s up on Max. They are quicker on the straights so even if I'd got through the corner quicker than them, most likely he would have just pipped me at the line. But still that's a huge positive to take and then our race pace seems to be better or as good as everyone's."

At their pre-race strategy briefing, Mercedes agreed that they would take risks if it gave them a chance to win. They approached the afternoon in that frame of mind, and made every decision based on it.

They committed to a one-stop race, while pretty much everyone else went for two.

As the various strategies played out, and the race entered its final third, Verstappen was leading from Hamilton and Russell, but the Dutchman had to stop again and the Mercedes drivers did not.

Had the race carried on with no caution periods, Verstappen would have pitted and dropped to third. On soft tyres with the Mercedes on used hards, he would have had to catch and pass both Mercedes to win.

"When I swapped to the medium [after my first stop], they were still doing good lap times [on their long first stint]," Verstappen said.

"Then, when they swapped to the hard, I was interested to see their pace. I thought: 'That's quite quick.' I was trying to push up a bit. It was very surprising they made it work. I knew it might get close at the end with the way strategies played out."

Would Verstappen have done it? Mercedes' strategy predictions said he would have come out eight seconds behind. It would have been close, the computers said, but they reckon Verstappen would still have won - but not easily.

The first blow to Mercedes was the bizarre sequence of events surrounding the virtual safety car, involving Yuki Tsunoda's Alpha Tauri.

After pitting for tyres, Tsunoda stopped on track on lap 44, and said over the radio that a wheel was lose. He undid his belts and started to climb out. No, the team said, the wheels are all fine. Carry on.

So he drove slowly back to the pits. Alpha Tauri strapped him in, and sent him out again, only for him to stop out on track, for good this time. Which required officials to deploy the virtual safety car so the car could be moved to a safe place.

For Verstappen, this was "a bit unfortunate", because while a VSC means a pit stop that costs less time, he still needed to fit fresh tyres, so Red Bull had to call him in. But it was too early for a set of softs, so they fitted hards, which Verstappen had not wanted because he did not like the feel of the car on them.

As Mercedes saw it, Red Bull's sister team had acted in an extremely odd way that had given their lead driver a major advantage, allowing him to pit and retain the lead, rather than drop to third.

"If we were fighting for the championship, that would be something I would closely look at." Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said.

"Now I think what needs to be investigated, for the safety of drivers and everybody, the driver stopped, unbuckled, drove a full lap, came in, the problem wasn't solved, they put the seat belts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again and that probably changed the outcome of a race that we maybe could have won."

Race stewards did investigate the incident - and reprimanded Tsunoda for driving back to the pits with the belts undone. It seems they did not look into Alpha Tauri's actions. There was "no evidence" of any wrongdoing, a spokesman said, pointing out the FIA has access to a lot of data and all team communications.

This was not the end of Mercedes' hopes, though. Mercedes had also stopped under the VSC, to fit fresh medium tyres. When racing resumed, Verstappen was leading Hamilton by 15.4 seconds. But, as he had feared, he did not get on well with the hards, and Hamilton started closing in.

Six laps later, with 16 to go, the gap was down to 10.7secs. Was the win on again for Hamilton? In the Red Bull, Verstappen thought not. "The gap after VSC was still big enough to manage," he said.

There was another twist, when Valtteri Bottas' engine failed and he stopped his Alfa Romeo on the main straight. Safety car.

Verstappen pitted again, for soft tyres. Initially, Mercedes left both cars out on their lightly used mediums, so they were briefly one-two again, with Verstappen third.

But the safety car led the field through the pits and Russell said he wanted softs because he could feel the mediums fading. The change dropped him back behind Verstappen. Hamilton, who did not change tyres, was still in the lead, but he now had no buffer.

Wolff said: "The thinking was we had a medium that had five racing laps on it and the track position and we took that decision.

"I don't think on a par with the same tyre we could have overtaken the Red Bull with their straight-line speed. We saw that with [Ferrari's Carlos] Sainz at the beginning, who had less pace, we weren't able to pass him. So that was the call.

"Every single day I would rather risk everything to win rather than cementing second and third."

Hamilton knew he was in trouble, saying over the radio it would be difficult to hold the drivers on softs behind, and so it proved. Verstappen was past him by the first corner after the restart.

Russell said: "We made a bold decision to go for the win. Had we both pitted, we would have conceded position to Max. Had we both stayed out, we would probably both lose to Max as well. The best chance was splitting it and here we are."

In hindsight, Mercedes felt the right call would have been to stop both drivers, because Hamilton not only lost out to Verstappen but also to Russell and Leclerc.

But at the same time, they could not factor in what happened. Hamilton did not admit after the race, but he had made a mistake. He had the engine in the wrong mode at the restart. That's why Verstappen found it so easy to pass so soon - Hamilton was down on power.

This personal error almost certainly explains Hamilton's partly sweary outburst - he hates making mistakes.

"I really thought we were going to be fighting for the win," Hamilton said. "It was finally there, within our grasp, and then the safety car came out and completely screwed us and then I am sitting there, I'm in the lead but I know no matter how good a restart I get I won't be able to keep them behind.

"To see it slip through my fingers, there was such an outburst of emotions, so apologies to my team. But I don't want to apologise for my passion - that is sometimes how it goes.

"But there are so many positives to take from this weekend. We were finally there fighting the Red Bulls and that is a great, great feeling and I want to take that forwards."

Can Mercedes get that elusive victory in the remaining seven races?

Russell believes they are on the cusp, saying. "Ferrari are in our sights in P2 in constructors' and drivers', but our target is to win a race and it's exciting to see how we are closing the gap."

But he is also realistic: "I think we had the fastest car today but we are not going to be able to fight for victory if we keep qualifying so far down the grid.

"There is no doubt we have the race pace to be able to win. Ultimately it will come down to qualifying. We need to find a bit more magic in qualifying."

Amid all the Mercedes drama, Verstappen took another consummate victory. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto admitted he was concerned that it has now been three consecutive races in which they have not been competitive, and Leclerc has effectively conceded the title.

"The Red Bull is the faster car at the moment especially in race pace," Leclerc said. "In qualifying we are very close. Mercedes seems to have gained a bit of pace in the races, too."

Effectively, Red Bull have simply edged ever forward, and Verstappen said that their season-long programme of trying to reduce the weight of the car had transformed it for him.

"When the regulations changed, you have to start over," he said, "and the car was not fully to my liking. But also the car was quite heavy and reducing the weight it all felt a bit more agile."

In his hands, it is now the best car in the field, but there is also no doubting the quality of the driver.

Verstappen said: "A lot of it is down to the team. That is also how Lewis won his championships. Your car is super-important. But when you are an exceptional driver, like Lewis is as well, you make the difference over your team-mate at the time in very crucial races.

"For me, one that stood out for him was Turkey [in 2020], when it was very slippery, staying calm not making mistakes. You end up winning a race.

"That is what good drivers do: they make the difference compared to other fast drivers but not as good.

"The car is very dominant in F1 but between the team-mates only one can win and that's where you have to make the difference." • None How to fool the opposition effectively in sport?: Sideways delves into the world of deception • None The raw and honest story of Paul Gascoigne and his turbulent life

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