Malaysian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton's regret over 'shocking' race
Lewis Hamilton was left to reflect on an "absolutely shocking" Malaysian Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel enjoyed another "great day".
That effectively summed up the performances of the two Formula One title rivals, as different as chalk and cheese and highlighting the fact for Hamilton of just how far he remains behind Vettel.
After a race in which Hamilton was forced to pit four times, the 26 -year-old was later given a retrospective drive-through penalty for making "more than one change of direction to defend a position".
That came as he tried to fend off old rival Fernando Alonso on lap 43, the Briton blocking the Ferrari by weaving his McLaren across the racing line.
The punishment, in accordance with the FIA rulebook, resulted in 20 seconds being added to Hamilton's time, enough to drop him from an initial seventh to eighth.
Further salt was rubbed into his wounds as Alonso also collected a penalty for running into the back of Hamilton as he made a hash of an overtaking manoeuvre soon after, yet the additional 20 seconds did not affect his sixth-placed finish.
"I've had a shocking race, absolutely shocking, terrible," said a dejected Hamilton in the immediate aftermath.
"We had a very poor strategy, I had four pit stops, I kept coming in before everybody else as the tyres didn't last.
"Then when Fernando hit me the floor (of the car) was damaged at the rear so I probably lost some downforce. I couldn't do the time on the tyres.
"We were looking good at one stage and then it went downhill. After that it was a disaster.
"This is one of those days you have to take on the chin and move forward."
Assessing the penalty, Hamilton added: "I knew I was going to get it. I'm not surprised.
"I was in with the stewards, so I anticipated it. I always try to assume the worst-case scenario.
"It's only one spot, and it's not really made me feel any worse than how the weekend has gone anyway."
As for the fact that Alonso did not lose a position, Hamilton added: "Then he's not had a penalty."
Asked whether it felt fair, Hamilton said: "It's racing. I'm not going to argue or disagree with the penalty.
"From my side I'm not allowed to move more than once. Do I class it as dangerous? No, but that's the rule. Twenty seconds is not such a bad penalty for it.
"As for Fernando, he hit me, he got a 20-second penalty, but it didn't really do anything for him.
"It doesn't exactly work out as a penalty, but again, that's racing."
Alonso described the incident and punishment as "no big drama", whilst McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh felt it "harsh" both drivers were penalised.
After two races it leaves Hamilton 28 points adrift of Vettel, with Alonso 30 points down on the German who has made the perfect start to the defence of his title with two wins from two.
Vettel finished 3.2secs ahead of Jenson Button, but in a race in which mayhem seemed to occur behind him given the plethora of pit stops that frequently changed the order, the 23-year-old appeared to handle everything effortlessly.
Even when he was told on lap 30 of 56 not to use his KERS power- boost system for the remainder of the race, Vettel then went and simply increased his lead anyway over Hamilton, who was running second at the time.
Over the radio after taking the chequered flag, Vettel said: "I love coming to work."
He later added: "This was another great day. Two out of two is perfect, it couldn't be any better, but there is still a very long way to go.
"The championship is far away. There are a lot of points still to get so we have to keep our feet on the ground, but at the moment things are looking good."
Button's first runner-up spot since Italy last year has elevated the 31-year-old to second in the standings, 24 points adrift of Vettel.
Button described the race as "fun", if not a little "confusing" with all the pit stops, but was nevertheless "happy to come away with a second".
Nick Heidfeld scored his first podium since Malaysia two years ago to give Renault a second successive top-three finish this season.
Mark Webber, who was without KERS all race after a fault was detected at the start, was fourth ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Paul di Resta again collected another point for Force India by coming home 10th just behind Mercedes' Michael Schumacher.