McLaren-Mercedes number one driver Lewis Hamilton has apologised to his team after crashing out of the Italian Grand Prix on the final lap - and throwing away a certain third place finish.

Hamilton, who started from pole, opted for a two-stop strategy. However, he was unable to build up enough of a gap to keep the single-stopping Brawn GP cars of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button behind him.

Indeed despite pushing on every lap, and despite leading for much of the race, he dropped behind both in his second pit stop and while he managed to cut the gap to Button to just over a second, on his final tour he lost the back of his MP4-24 at the exit of the first Lesmo and slid off into the barriers.

"I wasn't on the optimal strategy so I really had to push to make my two-stopper work. I got every tenth out of the car that I could possibly get and I didn't make any mistakes - until the last lap. It's unfortunate - but these things happen, it's a racing incident," Hamilton reflected.

"I was pushing incredibly hard on that lap to try to get close to Jenson and use KERS to pass him, then I exited the first Lesmo and the back-end got away from me and I went backwards into the wall.

"I can only say 'sorry' to the team - they did a great job and, although we were not quite as quick as the Brawns today, I pushed harder than ever, so I can at least feel very happy about that."

McLaren-Mercedes team principal, Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile was philosophical about Hamilton's late error and while he was not exactly pleased to see the Englishman crash out, he was happy he was okay.

"A disappointing result - there's no point my denying that we'd expected to achieve a lot more here at Monza," Whitmarsh continued. "Looking at the positives, though, thankfully, Lewis walked away unharmed from what was a pretty big shunt - simply the result of his never-give-up attitude, his unquenchable desire to fight until the very last metre of the very last lap.

"Throughout the final stint he'd been pushing as hard as he possibly could, driving beautifully, right on the limit, in an effort to catch Jenson for second place, and he pushed just a fraction too hard - and the result was that he lost it on the exit of the first Lesmo on that final lap. He'd just gone 'purple' in the first sector of that final lap, in fact.

"But that's the nature of a driver like Lewis, and there aren't many like him: if you give it 100 per cent on every single lap, every so often you'll give it 101 per cent - and then the result will be an 'off'. But that's racing, and Lewis is very definitely a racer, and we wouldn't want him any other way.

"So, yes, we're disappointed with our points haul today, of course we are, but we're also pleased that our race pace was almost on a par with that of the Brawns and as quick or quicker than that of anyone else.

"Now, though, we're already focusing on Singapore, where we intend to be every bit as competitive as we've been here at Monza this weekend."

Mercedes-Benz boss, Norbert Haug echoed those thoughts: "That's how it goes sometimes in motor racing. Lewis drove an excellent race and had the speed to finish on the podium. Lewis was in third place, five seconds behind the leader and catching up consistently when he crashed on the last lap - about three kilometres from the finish line.

"The positive side: as in Hungary and Valencia, during two of the last three races, Lewis had the speed to fight for a victory and we'll build on this performance during the final four races of the season," Haug vowed.


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