McLaren driver retires from lead with fuel pressure failure as Jenson Button claims fourth place.
Sun 04.11.12, 8:08PM
Lewis Hamilton admitted he was left feeling “gutted’ by the fuel pressure problem that saw him retire from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while leading comfortably.
Hamilton had dominated the weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit, running fastest in two of the three free practice sessions and claiming pole position by a solid margin on Saturday.
“I had a fuel pressure problem – it was very sudden, I was just entering
a corner and the car just
died on me.”
And he confirmed his pace advantage in the early stages of the race, quickly building up a sizeable lead over Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen in the first stint of the race. But on lap 20, Hamilton slowed dramatically and soon pulled over to retire from the race.
"I'm gutted; I'd had really good pace all weekend and I feel certain we could have won today,” he said afterwards. "I had a fuel pressure problem – it was very sudden, I was just entering a corner and the car just died on me.
"The only mistake I made all weekend was having a brief moment on lap two, when my brakes weren't fully up to temperature and I locked up into Turn Eight,” he added. “After that, however, everything was going really well. The car was a dream to drive – I was cruising and still pulling away when I had my problem.”
It was left to team-mate Jenson Button to salvage McLaren pride and after starting fifth the Briton climbed to third by the mid-point of the race. He held station there until the closing stages when, despite a determined defence, he was passed by a hard-charging Sebastian Vettel.
"It was quite a fun race. I had a few good battles out there – with Mark [Webber], Sebastian [Vettel] and Pastor [Maldonado],” he said. “But, unfortunately, I didn't have the pace in the car to take the fight to the leaders today.
"The car felt very different from how it had on Friday – I just couldn't find the grip, which was strange. And, at the end, I couldn't have kept Sebastian back. He was on newer option tyres, so it was impossible to get the same amount of traction from my older prime tyres as he was getting.
"Lewis's retirement meant we dropped more points to Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship. That was a great pity, but we have two big races remaining in which to make up the balance.”