Belfast Telegraph

Lewis Hamilton's woes continue after mistake at start of Japanese Grand Prix

By Philip Duncan

A despondent Lewis Hamilton admitted he was at fault for the horror start in the Japanese Grand Prix which now leaves the Formula One world championship out of his control.

The Briton recovered to finish third after he lost six places on the opening lap, but Hamilton could now win each of the remaining four rounds in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi and still come up short in his quest for a fourth title.

Hamilton, who walked out of his press conference with the written media on Saturday in response to what he deemed to be disrespectful coverage of his antics on Snapchat earlier this week, was faced with a damp grid slot following overnight rain.

He hinted at sabotage from his own Mercedes team following his engine failure in Malaysia last weekend before taking aim at the media here, but there was no one else to blame for what happened at the start of yesterday's race.

Hamilton continued his written press blackout afterwards, but did speak - albeit briefly - in the official press conference for the top three drivers, an obligation which is mandatory for drivers under the sport's regulations.

"I don't think the damp patch had really anything to do with it," Hamilton said.

"I made a mistake, and then just working my way up from there was tricky. I did the best I could."

Regarding the 33-point gap to Rosberg, Hamilton, who failed in his attempt to overtake Max Verstappen on the penultimate lap, added: "I'll give it everything I've got as I did in the race and we'll see what happens."

Team-mate Nico Rosberg's race victory in Japan gave Mercedes their third consecutive constructors' title, but Hamilton did not hang around for the celebrations.

Hamilton, and team boss Toto Wolff, boarded Niki Lauda's private plane from Nagoya in the hours after the race, but he will be at the team's headquarters in Brackley on Tuesday to toast their latest team title.

"I think after such a race, it is not the right moment to really put the finger where it hurts," said Wolff, when asked if he and Lauda will address Hamilton's bizarre conduct in Japan.

"We need to calm down, find out what happened, regroup, and my learning from the last couple of years is that 24 hours later things look different. Our main emphasis will be on building him up."

Following poor starts in Australia, Bahrain, Canada and Monza, Hamilton was again painfully slow to get going in Suzuka.

By the time he got down to turn one he had been passed by six drivers. Rosberg, who started from pole, had no such concerns as he retained the lead and never looked back.

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