Nico Rosberg reigns as Lewis Hamilton hopes for better days
A glum Lewis Hamilton has admitted he does not know if he will be back on the pace in the championship battle after being thrashed by Nico Rosberg at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Hamilton now trails Rosberg by eight points after he finished only third at the Marina Bay street circuit, while his Mercedes team-mate fended off a dramatic late charge from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo to seal a hat-trick of consecutive wins.
Hamilton, who had been off colour all weekend, was a whopping seven-10ths of a second slower than Rosberg in qualifying, and the 31-year-old Briton failed to make any impact on his title rival in yesterday's race.
For the first time this season, and arguably the first in the three years in which they have battled for the championship, Rosberg delivered a crushing victory over Hamilton.
And, after leading the championship race by 43 points, and then finding himself 19 behind, Rosberg is now eight points ahead with six rounds left. So, is his team-mate worried?
"The next race will tell," a subdued Hamilton said. "I'm not really thinking too much about it at the moment. We have got six races left, so I've just got to keep pushing in those six races."
Hamilton won six of the seven rounds heading into the sport's annual summer break. But as he holidayed in Costa Rica, Barbados and the United States, Rosberg spent the three-week shutdown with his wife Vivian and one-year-old daughter Alaia. Rosberg has won the three races since and led virtually every lap.
Hamilton dismissed the notion that he would have done anything differently over the summer, instead paying tribute to his championship rival.
"Nico just did an exceptional job this weekend and we didn't," Hamilton said. "What it's going to take for the momentum to change? Just some good weekends which we've had in the past.
"We're both fiercely competitive. Some weekends he does great, some weekends I do great."
Hamilton headed into yesterday's race under the lights hoping luck would be on his side after he qualified third at a circuit where it is almost impossible to overtake.
But the Stevenage-born racer endured an arduous night as he failed to challenge either Rosberg or Ricciardo before a mistake on lap 33 enabled Kimi Raikkonen to pass him, too.
While Hamilton managed to leapfrog the Ferrari - after Mercedes caught the Italian team off-guard with a third pit stop - to claim his 99th podium finish, it is Rosberg who is now in charge of the championship.
The 31-year-old German - despite Red Bull attempting an aggressive three-stop strategy that led to a fascinating crescendo - sealed his inaugural win at Singapore and his first podium finish here since 2008.
British rookie Jolyon Palmer crossed the line in 15th, while Jenson Button retired with a mechanical problem.