Lewis Hamilton has conceded that barring 'a miracle' in the Abu Dhabi finale in a week's time, his bid to claim a second drivers' crown in the top flight in F1 2010 is over - but off the back of a 'tough' afternoon at Interlagos, the McLaren-Mercedes star has admitted that he now has 'nothing to lose'.

Having qualified fourth for the Brazilian Grand Prix - the penultimate round on the 2010 world championship calendar, and a race in which Hamilton has both won and lost the title before - the British ace maintained position at the start but slipped back to fifth when a small error through Turn Four on only the third lap saw him lose out to Ferrari rival and former team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Subsequently coiled up behind surprise pole-sitter Nico H?lkenberg - despite numerous attempts to outwit his young German adversary - the 25-year-old only finally found a way past and back up into fourth place by dint of staying out longer prior to making his first pit-stop, by which stage he was complaining repeatedly of badly fading tyres.

A second stop under the safety car 31 laps later enabled Hamilton to shed another distinctly worn set of boots, and although he proceeded to set the race's fastest lap in the closing stages, the damage had been done, and the 2008 F1 World Champion will head to Abu Dhabi 24 points in arrears of Alonso in the drivers' standings, with only 25 remaining up for grabs. Requiring ill-fortune in the extreme to strike the Spaniard at Yas Marina, it is now, without doubt, the very longest of long shots.

"There's not too much to say," he ruefully told the BBC after the chequered flag had fallen in S?o Paulo. "I was nowhere; I had no grip. The car just didn't feel like it had in practice. Down the straights in particular, I didn't feel the F-duct was working - I was even struggling to overtake the backmarkers in a straight line, and Fernando just shot past me.

"I pushed as hard as I could on every lap, but this was a tough race for me - I actually feel quite lucky to have finished where I did. If we're not quick enough here, we won't be quick enough in Abu Dhabi - you can't win with a car that isn't fast enough - but as always, we won't give up and we'll keep on pushing.

"I'm still in the hunt for the drivers' championship, but I'm 24 points down, so I have nothing to lose now. In Abu Dhabi I'll be doing everything I can to pull off the win I need, and hoping the other guys hit problems. We've seen many times before that almost anything can happen in the last race of the season. It'll take a miracle - but miracles can happen!"

With Hamilton affirming that the principal goal for McLaren now is to stave off Ferrari to secure the runner-up laurels in the constructors' chase, the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh mused that despite the inevitable Brazilian disappointment, there can still be absolutely no let-up between now and Abu Dhabi.

"The 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix was a tense and absorbing race," the Englishman reflected. "Fighter that he is, Lewis tried his damnedest to pass Nico in the early laps, and very nearly pulled it off on a number of occasions, but he lost quite a lot of time to the front-runners in the process. As a result, in the end he wasn't able to improve on his starting position of fourth.

"Once the safety car had been deployed, we opted to bring both our drivers in for new tyres - a more-or-less risk-free strategy given that the gap back to Michael [Schumacher] had been sufficiently large for Lewis and Jenson [Button - team-mate] to be able to rejoin the field without losing their fourth and fifth positions respectively.

"The rationale behind that decision was that, had the front-runners' older 'Primes' begun to degrade in the final laps, our drivers would have been uniquely well-placed to capitalise on that degradation. In the event there was very little such degradation, so our drivers derived no demonstrable benefit from their fresh rubber, but they suffered no disadvantage either, so it was well worth trying.

"Lewis is one of four drivers who are still in contention for this year's drivers' world championship - and, although he faces a very tough task in order to prevail, he'll definitely be giving it everything he's got in Abu Dhabi in his efforts to become world champion for the second time in his career. Good fortune will have to play its part, and nothing short of a win will suffice, but it's by no means impossible.

"Last but not least, the battle for the constructors' world championship came to a finish today - and the victors were Red Bull Racing. Although in some ways it goes against the grain for me to say so, because our ethos at McLaren-Mercedes is that winning is all, it's always refreshing when a new constructor's name is etched onto that famous trophy. On behalf of all at Woking, I'd like to offer congratulations to all at Milton Keynes."