Former world champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he now needs to adopt an 'all-or-nothing' approach to the final three grands prix of the F1 2010 campaign, conceding that 'podiums won't do it' and fearing that if pace-setters Red Bull Racing continue to finish the races, 'it will be a walkover'.
Following his nightmare weekend at Suzuka characterised by a heavy practice 'off', an ear infection that affected his balance and rendered him partly deaf, recurrent gearbox woes and a lowly fifth-placed finish [see separate story – click here
], Hamilton has slipped to some 28 points adrift of world championship leader Mark Webber in the title standings.
“I've had bad weekends but nothing overall as bad,” the McLaren-Mercedes star mused of his Japanese Grand Prix adventure. “This is the worst of all of them. I don't know what I have been kicked around by, but I have definitely had a tough one. The crash was my fault, but the rest... I am just happy to have finished the race – I mean, that's five races and two finishes.”
However, should Red Bull's current rich vein of form continue into the last three outings in Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, then Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel will prove nigh-on impossible to beat – and Hamilton confesses that McLaren needs to rely on a touch of ill-fortune striking the energy drinks-backed duo between now and season's end to still stand any chance of pipping them to the laurels.
“Podiums won't do it,” reflected the 25-year-old. “Wins will get it if the others have problems, but if Red Bull finish all the races then it's a walkover. It is all-or-nothing [for me] in the next three races.”
Those sentiments are broadly shared by team-mate, compatriot and title-winning successor Jenson Button, who reckons McLaren's bolt may now have been shot after a new rear wing and F-duct upgrade failed to yield the desired step forward in performance in Japan.
“If we don't turn up in Korea with some big improvements, it will be almost impossible,” the nine-time grand prix-winner rued. “I would like to think we don't have to hope Red Bull crash or have reliability issues and we have a car to challenge them, but when they have the pace they had [at Suzuka], they can cruise it. We can't complain about luck, though; look at Red Bull – Vettel has thrown away 75 points or something this year. He should be miles in front...”