A DEJECTED Lewis Hamilton said he does not exist to finish second after a number of mistakes in Bahrain allowed Sebastian Vettel to steal a march in the Formula One drivers’ championship.
Hamilton has so far been relishing the new dynamic of his title battle against Ferrari and their four-time champion. But his mood after the latest race suggested that particular honeymoon period may now be over.
Britain’s triple world champion owned up to the pit-lane blunder that saw him illegally block Daniel Ricciardo and take a five-second penalty – one that scuppered any chance he had of challenging Vettel – and his sluggish start, which allowed the German to overtake at turn one.
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But the Englishman was also left to rue a problem with his car in qualifying which he believes cost him a certain pole position. It left a downbeat Hamilton offering a very frank assessment of the third round of the championship in the desert.
“Over the years, nothing changes and I feel pain in my heart,” Hamilton said. “People will be like, ‘You finished second you should be happy’, but that is not why we exist. If anyone ever thinks I should feel happy with second, then I don’t really know what to say.
“When you have a strong fight it is a great feeling so I felt good on the podium after the race. But then you think about certain things.
“I lost two tenths of a second from turn 10 to 11 in qualifying because the DRS did not engage. I should have easily been on pole. Then, I lost position at the start. Solely my fault. Then you get the time lost in the pit lane. You practise, and practise, and practise, and you only have 20 opportunities and when you f*** it up, man, it is painful. There is no other way of saying it. I try to handle it the best way I can but it eats you up a little inside so you have got to cope with it and move forward.”
Hamilton, now seven points adrift of Vettel, will return to the cockpit today for the first of this week’s two-day test in Bahrain. The next stop will be the Russian Grand Prix a week on Sunday. The 32-year-old has called on his Mercedes team to bounce back for the Sochi race, well aware that Vettel will be ready to pounce should the reigning champions put a foot wrong.
“It is the small percentages now, which is what racing should all be about,” Hamilton added. “We want to be operating in the top end, and not doing a good enough job by one per cent and therefore losing the race. That is what it is going to about this year.
“That is exciting and that means all of us in the team have to be operating at our maximum every weekend.”
“If you look at the 20 races last year, you could say there were a handful that were not perfect. Every year my goal is to increase the number of awesome races and minimise how many dips you have.The first race was still a high, the second race was still a high, and this one was a little bit of a dip. I plan to bring it back up for the next one.”