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Lewis Hamilton desperate to fight Max Verstappen as he remains confident of Mercedes win

After leading the Dutch GP, Lewis Hamilton finished the race in fourth and Max Verstappen took the victory on his home turf; Hamilton remains confident Mercedes will secure a race victory this season and "challenge" Red Bull once again

Image: Lewis Hamilton admitted he is desperate to get back into the fight with Max Verstappen this season as the Red Bull driver continues to dominate the championship

Lewis Hamilton admitted he is "dying" to have the opportunity to race Max Verstappen again as he remains confident a win for Mercedes is in his sights this season.

Hamilton came arguably the closest he has to victory this year at last weekend's Dutch GP before a combination of strategy risks and safety cars saw him drop to fourth and Verstappen ultimately take the victory.

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Max Verstappen eases past Lewis Hamilton at the restart following the ending of the safety car at the Dutch Grand Prix

After a 2021 season centred on fighting the Red Bull team, Hamilton is desperate for Mercedes to get back in the mix and cannot wait to take on his old rival once again.

"I'm dying to get back in that race and have the opportunity to fight Max, but the day hasn't come [yet]," said Hamilton.

"There's so many great things to take [from the Dutch GP]. If this can be the same in the future races, we're going to be continuing to breathe down their necks and get that win.

"I'm taking all these positives forwards, so grateful for the team and all their hard work because it has been a tough slog for all of them. Let's just not give up."

Verstappen's win at his home race catapulted him 109 points ahead of Charles Leclerc in second place and it is clear he is a driver who is full of confidence, not just in himself but in his car too.

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One of Mercedes' strategy calls that was debated was their decision to pit George Russell under the safety car but not Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to easily overtake Hamilton for the lead.

While some believe leaving Russell out as a buffer would have been the correct decision from Mercedes, Verstappen remained adamant he would have secured victory even with the added task of passing Russell too.

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Max Verstappen celebrated with his Red Bull team-mates and his home fans after taking victory at the Dutch Grand Prix

"When you look at the whole weekend it has been pretty incredible," said Verstappen.

"I think everything worked well, we stayed calm, there isn't a lot of confusion on the radio, they know what to do.

"On the restart, luckily I had a good run and could go in the lead then I felt really comfortable with the car and the tyres again.

"I think I would have got through both of them anyway if he [Russell] had stayed out so I think it was a smart call to pit as well."

Wolff questions Tsunoda DNF as Hamilton win 'was on'

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff raised questions about Yuki Tsunoda's bizarre stoppage at the Dutch GP and insists Lewis Hamilton would have had a great chance of beating Max Verstappen without the disruption.

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The virtual safety car is deployed as AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda is forced to stop at the side of the track

After Tsunoda emerged from the pit lane with a problem and pulled up after just four corners, a virtual safety car was then called and gave Verstappen an effective free stop to retain his lead - while he later overtook Hamilton after a full safety car, with the Mercedes driver eventually finishing fourth.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner insisted it did not actually play into Verstappen's hands, but Wolff opened the door for the conspiracy theories that have emerged online since the events.

"If we were to fight for a championship, that would be something I would closely look at," admitted the Mercedes team principal when asked if the governing FIA should investigate the incident.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff defends the team's strategy calls, insisting they needed to take risks to have a chance of winning the race

"Now, I think what needs to be investigated for the safety of drivers and everybody out there.

"The driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap, came in, the problem wasn't solved, they put the seatbelts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again.

"That probably has changed the outcome of the race that we maybe could have won."

Wolff said without the VSC, Verstappen would have left the pits trailing Hamilton by as much as eight seconds.

"I think we would have had a fair shot at the win," he added. "The race planner said the win was on. It was very close, but it was on."

Live Formula 1

Next up this weekend is a visit to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix as Verstappen looks to continue his dominant run, Mercedes focus on hunting down their first win of the year and Ferrari target a home race victory.

You can catch it all live on Sky Sports F1, with first practice on Friday from 12.30pm followed by practice two from 3.45 pm.

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