Radio silence adds to frustration for Hamilton
8 September 2013
Lewis Hamilton has said that he was unaware of the puncture that forced him into the extra pit-stop that compromised his race strategy at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Briton, already on the back foot after failing to break out of Q2 on Saturday afternoon, had chosen to start on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds, hoping to make up ground by running deeper into the race than those ahead of him, but was forced to pit on lap 13 to replace a right-front tyre that was showing signs of losing pressure.
The problem was that only the team knew about the situation when it began to deteriorate, and could not convey the message to Hamilton as the Briton's radio had failed on the opening lap. As a result, it took a couple of attempts to call him in – and left the driver none the wiser as to why he had had to pit.
“My radio failed right at the start of the race, and it's really tough when that happens as you rely on the advice and information from the team to manage your race,” Hamilton explained, “I didn't even know about the slow puncture until after the race, so now it makes more sense why we had to make the extra stop.”
The stop dropped Hamilton to 19th spot, behind Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen – who had needed a new wing at the end of lap one – but he soon began to carve his way back through the field. Having swapped from the hard Pirellis to the softer mediums, however, it was unlikely that he could go the remaining 40-lap distance and, despite having made it into the top five, gave in to the inevitable on lap 38.
Fitting the option tyres once again, Hamilton was once more able to catch and pass the cars ahead of him – including Raikkonen – as he broke back into the points, eventually coming to rest in P9 as Romain Grosjean proved one opponent too far.
“I did have some fun this afternoon, particularly fighting with Kimi,” the 2008 world champion insisted, “It's just tough fighting so far down the field when our car was clearly really quick.
“I gave it my all out there today; the pace of the car was great but unfortunately we paid the price for not qualifying far enough up the field. It was a difficult weekend for me, but these things happen and you have to say that it's been a good year so far. We'll keep pushing together as a team and I know that we'll bounce back for Singapore. We'll be giving it everything to make up for this weekend with a stronger performance there.”
Hamilton's result drops him 81 points off the lead of the drivers' standings, and the Briton was adamant that his chances of denying Vettel a fourth crown are over.
"I think it would be sensible to say that's that for the championship," he told the BBC immediately after the race.
Hamilton's two points, allied to the eight claimed by team-mate Nico Rosberg, were also not enough to prevent Mercedes slipping back to third spot in the constructors' championship, as Ferrari's 2-4 finish overhauled the Brackley team in the race to finish second to Red Bull.
“Lewis' slow puncture in his first stint obviously compromised his strategy by forcing us to make two stops,” team principal Ross Brawn confirmed, “But he drove a fantastic fighting race, complicated by the radio failure, and got everything out of the car this afternoon to climb back to P9.
“In the end, that was a frustrating race because we had a very quick car today. We can never be certain what Vettel's ultimate pace could have been at the front of the field, but we saw Fernando and Mark fighting hard for second place and our drivers were matching their pace all the time...”