After starting from the front row of the grid, it's not hard to understand why Lewis Hamilton was less than thrilled to end up in fifth place at the end of the Korean Grand Prix on Sunday.

"That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team," he admitted afterwards. "It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka."

The key moment came at the start, when he was not only unable to carry the fight to polesitter Sebastian Vettel who had an uncontested run down to turn 1, but also found himself under challenge from Romain Grosjean - with the Lotus getting the better track position in the first run down to the hairpin, enabling the frenchman to make an ultimately easy pass on Hamilton in turn 3.

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"After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day," the Mercedes driver conceded.

Any thoughts of a fightback were undone by constant problems managing the fickle tyres in Yeongam.

"In my second stint, running the prime tyre, my right front was just destroyed all of a sudden," Hamilton revealed. "They said I might go through the graining phase but there was no graining, it was just dead.

"The tyre was losing temperature and I was locking up and couldn't get round the corner, so it was a very difficult 10 or 15 laps I had to do on that tyre and that's really what lost us so much ground.

"It was a really difficult part of the race but I had to get to a certain target lap before I made the final stop," he continued.

"Lewis began to struggle around 13 laps into his second stint when he reported that his right-front tyre was no longer performing properly," team principal Ross Brawn explained. "At that point, we had a difficult decision to make: an extra stop at lap 22 would have committed us to a much slower three-stop strategy, or we could leave Lewis in clean air to tough it out and try and reach the target lap to make our two-stop strategy work.

"We chose the latter option but it was a pretty painful few laps as Lewis battled to minimise the time loss," Brawn said.

Annoyed by the call at the time, Hamilton later conceded that they had been right: "We couldn't have done thirty-five laps on the tyres," he acknowledged. "In hindsight, we could have stopped because the Safety Car came out, but we never knew that would have happened."

In the end, all team strategies were thrown up in the air by the two rapid safety cars, the first for the delamination on Sergio Perez' McLaren, and the second for a fire on-board Mark Webber's Red Bull after being hit by Adrian Sutil at the hairpin.

"The safety car phases ultimately made the final part of the race more comfortable in terms of tyre life" agreed Brawn.

It left Hamilton behind the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg and ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, but despite his best efforts which delivered some of the best racing action of the day, Hamilton simply got not find a way past the car ahead.

"Stuck behind a Sauber: jeez, the traction he had was incredible," marvelled Hamilton, sounding more than a little envious.

"We were just losing out in traction to the Sauber," he sighed. "Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead.

"It was a nice battle with Fernando but it's hard to take when it's only for P5 or P6," he added, sounding dispirited. "Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end having our own little race, yet we are of a higher calibre than that.

"We should be further ahead fighting with the world champions at the front and with Sebastian," he summed up.