Immediately after the Italian Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton wrote off his Formula 1 title chances for another year but then shortly afterwards did an about turn – ever the racer he has refused to give up until mathematically forced to do so.
“Obviously that’s that for the championship,” he told television reporters after finishing a hard-earned ninth for Mercedes at Monza where he had won last season for McLaren.
“I blew it in qualifying and it was impossible to catch up. The radio failed in the race and I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I missed my pit stop by quite a few laps. It was a disaster of a weekend,” he added.
Speaking separately to British reporters later, after a debrief, the 2008 champion put some distance between his earlier comments, even if his previous assessment still looked valid enough.
The Briton remains third overall but is now 81 points adrift of Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel, the winner in Monza, with seven races remaining worth a maximum of 175 points.
“When I got out of the car I was angry, and definitely thought that would be it,” he said in the Mercedes motorhome, his pet bulldog Roscoe snoozing and snoring on the floor nearby.
“But I’ve been back with my engineers and I’m not going to give up. I basically need to win every race, which is the tallest order ever, but I can do nothing but try.”
Hamilton had arrived in Italy chasing his fifth pole position in a row but instead damaged the floor of his Mercedes in qualifying and had to start from 12th place on the grid.
Although he made up two places at the start, a slow right front puncture on his first set of tyres then forced him to make his first stop as early as lap 13 and switch to a two stop strategy.
He had lost radio contact with the team at the start, forcing him to rely on old-fashioned pit boards for guidance and leaving him in the dark about the puncture until after the chequered flag.
The only compensation was that the Briton then set the fastest lap of the race. Yet the day had started out more promisingly than might have been expected.
“After qualifying I handled it probably the best I’ve ever done,” said Hamilton. “I was angry within myself, like I always am, but I got over it way, way faster than I ever have.
“I turned it into a positive and I arrived at the track energised and excited, felt really good in the race, pushed, drove harder than ever and I really felt like I had nothing left in my heart at the end of it.
“But I was angry because it sucks when you do all that work and you only make up three places and get two points.” (Reuters)
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