Hamilton hopes punctured
Having started in seventh position, Hamilton had dropped back to ninth on the first lap, though his day was to get worse when he reported a puncture one lap later, having ran over debris from an earlier incident. Exiting the pits in 21st position, Hamilton would struggle to make ground. He rose as high as 16th before retiring in the latter stages of the race.
“My second-lap puncture was incredibly unfortunate,” said Hamilton before departing the circuit. “There was debris scattered across the full width of the track and I didn’t have any option other than to drive straight through it. What’s more frustrating is that, at the time, I was the eighth car through – so to be the one to get the puncture is just cruel luck.
“It was immediately clear that my car didn’t feel the same after the puncture. However, after a few laps, I was able to adapt my driving style, and the car had good pace during the middle stint. However, with the damage to the rear, I think we were lucky to get that far, to be honest.”
Hamilton’s race was not without controversy. Emerging from his second pitstop almost exactly a lap down on the leaders, he slotted in between second-placed Sebastian Vettel and third-placed team-mate Jenson Button. With fresh rubber Hamilton made the decision to un-lap himself, passing Vettel into the hairpin. He was unable to make an impression on leader Fernando Alonso, and remained for a time in between the first and second-placed men – something which drew sharp criticism from Vettel after the race.
“That was not nice of him,” said the reigning World Champion. “I don’t see the point why he’s trying to race us: if he wants to go fast he can drop back, find a gap and go fast there. But it’s a bit stupid to disturb the leaders. He was a lap down so I don’t see the point.”