Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Formula One: Lewis Hamilton refusing to lie down

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are aiming to overcome McLaren's troubled situation and stay in the world championship title fight.

After the Japanese Grand Prix, they trail Mark Webber (220), Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel (206 apiece) with 192 and 189 points respectively.

“I have no idea,” Hamilton admitted after gearbox troubles had restricted him to a fifth place finish behind Button, as the Red Bulls dominated the race ahead of Alonso's Ferrari.

“If it's statistically possible, then I guess it's realistically possible.”

Hamilton is a fighter who always talks a good game even in adversity and adversity didn't come much greater than in Suzuka, but he paused a moment as reality sunk in, then voiced his thoughts pretty much as they occurred, as he did the mental arithmetic.

“I'm now 28 points behind. It's not looking great. I can still can do it with 75 points available, but if they finish all the races as they have like this, then it's a walkover.”

Fernando Alonso had said that he could win the title merely by finishing on the podium in the remaining three races. Hamilton smiled at that one.

“Wins will get it for us,” he replied quickly.

Suzuka was a weekend from hell for him that began with the shunt on his second flying lap in Friday's first practice sessions, the rain that delayed qualifying until Sunday morning, then a gearbox problem that resulted in the need for a new unit and cost him third place on the grid.

If that wasn't enough, his replacement gearbox lost third gear around lap 38.

Compounding Hamilton's problem, he was suffering an ear infection throughout the meeting.

“I've had bad weekends, but this is the worst of all,” he said.

“The infection affected my balance a bit, left me deaf in the left ear so I couldn't use the ear plug. It was bruised and I couldn't hear a thing. Then both ears blocked in the race.”

Button, meanwhile, once again questioned his team's tyre strategy after qualifying on the harder Bridgestone compound.

“I thought the others would struggle on the options at the start of the race, but they didn't,” he said. “I wasn't really able to push Fernando and I had Lewis right behind me.

“We need to look at the data, but to stay out when everyone else pitted was probably the wrong thing. Maybe you should cover the people that you are racing and we didn't do that.”

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