Max Verstappen has enjoyed another dominant F1 victory at his home Dutch GP, but Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton was left furious at his team after a potential chance to win slipped away.
After winning every F1 championship since 2014 bar last year's, Mercedes have found themselves just slightly off the pace set by Red Bull and Ferrari under this season's new technical regulations.
Though they've improved throughout the season, Hamilton has been desperate to get he and his team on the top step of the podium for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix last year.
Mid-way through the Dutch GP and running on an alternate strategy to polesitter Verstappen, Hamilton had actually worked into the lead and there was a chance his strategy could prove a winning one.
Nothing is ever that simple in F1 though, and a virtual safety car called for the stricken Alpha Tauri of Yuki Tsonoda, and the subseqent pitstop under yellow flags for Verstappen was able to propel him back to the lead.
Hamilton regained the lead later on, when a full safety car was called for Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas, who broke down on the pit straight.
Verstappen dived for the pits, as did Mercedes teammate George Russell, but Hamilton stayed out in order to maintain the lead on track.
Unfortunately, this meant Hamilton would be at a big disadvantage when the race restarted, with key rivals Verstappen and Leclerc on fresh tyres.
The seven-time world champion was furious that Russell had been given the opportunity to pit, when he believed his teammate would have been able to slow Verstappen down in the dying laps to potentially seize an unlikely win.
"That was the biggest f*** up," Hamilton roared over radio.
"I can't believe how much you guys f***ed me."
Adding salt to the wound was Russell passing him on fresh tyres for second, before Leclerc eventually reeled Hamilton in and overtook him for third - a devastating finish to a promising race.
When the emotions of the cockpit had worn off Hamilton was conciliatory to the team, but F1 fans couldn't help but compare the blunder to one of Ferrari's many this season.
— Paul Johnson (@pjohnson_sports) September 4, 2022
Mercedes allowing George Russell to make that call has cost the team dearly. Baffling. #DutchGP
— James McKern (@jLmcKern) September 4, 2022
Ferrari might understandably be a laughing stock because of their strategy incompetence, but Mercedes allowing George Russell to pit there leaving Lewis Hamilton exposed is honestly one of the worst calls I've seen.
— Daniel Austin (@_Dan_Austin) September 4, 2022
Mercedes has no one but Russell to blame for this. #F1
— Nathalie Sturgeon (@nthlstrgn) September 4, 2022
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) September 4, 2022
"To all the mechanics fantastic job today," Hamilton said over the radio on the colldown lap after the race.
"Those were the best pit stops we've had all year, so thank you with the continued efforts. Let's keep pushing, we still got points today."
Lewis Hamilton left frustrated by F1 misfortune at Dutch GP
While finishing second and fourth at Zandvoort represented one of the best results of the year for Mercedes, particularly considering they were in the frame for a rare win, Hamilton was circumspect after the race.
He apologised to the team for his comments when speaking to media, saying the bad luck of both safety cars had pushed his emotions to the edge.
"I was really hopefully we were going to get a 1-2 together as a team after an up and down year and we've not had a win since Brazil," Hamilton said post-race.
"It's finally there within our grasp and of course the safety car really didn't help and I was on the edge of breaking point with emotions.
"My apologies to the team because I don't even remember what I said. I just lost it for a second. But I think they know it's just so much passion. I want to look at as a glass half full."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said he was incredibly surprised to see Russell pit when he did, expecting Mercedes to go for the race win.
The team had taken a risk by pitting Verstappen from the lead, but Horner said they had been confident it would pay off.
"You've got your home driver, leading in front of 105,000 people, and you decide to pit him for the soft tyres and concede track position behind two Mercedes," said Horner.
"I was quite surprised that they didn't leave George out strategically as a rear gunner for Lewis. When he pitted, it gave a straight fight between Max and Lewis with a tyre offset.
"By the time they came past us on the pit wall, Max was already alongside, and thereafter, it was a matter of controlling the race."
Verstappen's 10th win matched his tally from last year and the Red Bull driver extended his championship lead to 109 points.
With seven races left, a second straight title is looking increasingly likely as his challengers - Ferrari's Leclerc and teammate Sergio Perez in joint second - continue to fall further back.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.