Formula 1: Season's worst for Hamilton

Formula 1: Season's worst for Hamilton
Mercedes Formula One driver Hamilton of Britain walks from his team's garage after retiring from the Singapore F1 Grand Prix
PHOTO: Reuters

It was a weekend that promised so much but delivered so little for Lewis Hamilton.

The reigning world champion had won seven of 12 races before last night's Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, and looked on course for his third world drivers' championship.

The 30-year-old Briton was also eyeing a special milestone at the Marina Bay Street Circuit - he had made no secret of his ambition to win last night's race and emulate his hero, the late Ayrton Senna, by picking up 41 wins from 161 starts.

But the wheels started coming off, proverbially, for Hamilton in Saturday's qualifying races, where he finished only fifth quickest - more than 1.415 seconds off the pace.

Things got even worse in last night's race. He was forced to retire just after the halfway mark - after the 34th of 61 laps - following an electrical issue which saw him drop off from fourth all the way down to 16th.

Lapping between 13 and 15 seconds off the pace, the Mercedes team decided to call him back into the garage after he asked to be stopped.

It was Hamilton's first "DNF" (Did Not Finish) of the season, and reduced his lead in the race for the drivers' title to 41 points ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth last night.

As the motorsport world was still reeling from the developments - Mercedes had been dominant all season and their machines have been reliable - a group of cameramen steadily built at the entrance of the team's garage, anticipating Hamilton's emergence.

When he finally emerged, and as he entered the media pen to face the press, he saw Williams driver Felipe Massa, who was also forced to retire following a gearbox problem.

He tapped the Brazilian's shoulder as if to say, "I feel your pain, bro".

With the smell of burnt rubber - from his tyres being cooled just in front of the Mercedes garage - wafting through the air, Hamilton said: "I was feeling super-optimistic in the car, I really was.

"The guys in front were on the option (tyres) and I was on the prime, and I was easily keeping up with the guys.

"I thought 'you know what, we've got a race on our hands here'.

"The pace was nice, really under control.

"I was just waiting for that time when I could push and see what I could get from the car, but obviously I didn't get that.

"I lost power and I was hoping they would have a quick fix but it never came."

Mercedes had a miserable weekend and it was only the second time this season that neither he nor Rosberg finished on the podium - the first being the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 26.

When asked if Mercedes have an urgent need to find out what went wrong last night, Hamilton said: "Definitely. We should not have been in the position we were in anyway.

"You can say some of the others have a better car here, but maybe by a maximum of half a second, not a second and a half.

"We definitely have to work out what it (the problem) was."

This article was first published on September 21, 2015.
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