Following what he has described as his worst weekend in F1, former world champion Lewis Hamilton has acknowledged that his hard-charging approach 'hasn't paid off too well for me recently', and confessed that having never traditionally believed in luck, he is beginning to question that conviction now.
Hamilton's Japanese Grand Prix adventure – or perhaps misadventure would be more apt – was characterised by a hefty practice accident significantly curtailing his preparation time, an ear infection that left him partly deaf and recurrent gearbox woes that earned him a five-place starting grid penalty and then consigned the McLaren-Mercedes star to a distant fifth position in the race, behind all four of his fellow competitors for the ultimate laurels.
Indeed, at one stage he feared he was not even going to make it to the finish of the grand prix and that he would be left ruing his fourth DNF from the last five outings – and the all-but inevitable end of his title chances that would have accompanied such a result – but whilst he concedes that the conquest of a second drivers' crown to add to that which he claimed two years ago is now 'getting more difficult', it is at least still alive.
“It's funny,” the 25-year-old mused, speaking to his personal website. “I've never believed in luck – I've always believed you make your own luck – but that belief has been stretched a bit over the last four grands prix. I go racing with my heart and I race hard, but that approach hasn't paid off too well for me recently. Every experience is a learning experience, though, and I'll certainly learn from these experiences and put that knowledge to good use in the future.
“That's one positive. Another is just the simple fact that I got to the flag, scored some points and kept my world championship challenge on-track. We've seen how this year's championship is very much a battle of consistency, so every single point is valuable.
“It wasn't easy [to adapt to the loss of third gear] at a track like Suzuka, because it's such a flowing circuit – you need all the traction you can to keep your momentum up. Fortunately, because it's quite a fast track, you're not in the lower gears for too much of the lap. You need the traction from the low gears out of the hairpin and the chicane, but you're also missing it a lot out of the second Degner, where you need a lower gear to get the car planted properly.
“I was fortunate on Sunday, because I'd already established quite a big lead over the sixth-placed car, so I didn't lose too much ground and could hold onto fifth – and the good news is that the rules permit us to change the gearbox for Korea without getting another grid penalty.
“I was pleased with the pace we showed during the race. Jenson [Button – McLaren team-mate] set the second-fastest lap and, before my gearbox problem, I was closing down on Fernando [Alonso] and could even have made it onto the podium despite a five-place grid penalty. Given that we weren't racing all the updates we'd brought to Japan with us, I think that gives us a lot of encouragement for Korea and beyond.
“[The championship] is getting more difficult, I'm fully aware of that, but in a situation like this, I always look back at the 2007 season and what happened in those final two or three races. I think Kimi [Raikkonen] was 17 points behind with two races remaining, but he still managed to win the world championship. I've learnt on more than one occasion that the world championship isn't won until the very last gasp, so I've definitely not given up. I want to win again and I go to Korea believing we can do that – and who knows, if that happens and the other championship contenders fail to score, then I'm right back in it.”