Hamilton fears another screw-up

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP reacts as he talks to journalists following his retirement from the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP reacts as he talks to journalists following his retirement from the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore on Sept 20, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

He has yet to hear from his Mercedes team on what made his car lose power in S'pore

SUZUKA (Japan) • Lewis Hamilton is concerned that Mercedes' poor showing in Singapore could be repeated at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend and is still waiting for an explanation from his team.

Mercedes went into the Formula One race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Sunday a second and a half slower than Ferrari, having been half a second quicker in the previous race at Monza, Italy.

To compound the championship leader's miserable weekend, a loss of power forced him to retire for the first time in 20 races. That allowed team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to make up ground in the title race.

Hamilton would no doubt like Mercedes to resume their swaggering dominance at Suzuka but said: "I don't have any confidence. I don't have any information to give me that confidence. I'm hoping it's a one-off but it was a strange weekend to say the least.

"Our car has not got slower. I told my engineers I would like some information about what they think it was but there's not a lot of time before the next race."

Mercedes could not get their tyres to work in the smaller than usual peak-operating window presented by the steamy conditions in Singapore but no one knows why. Even a bad tyre day fails to explain why Mercedes were so far off the pace.

Hamilton rejected the conspiracy theory that Mercedes may have been given inferior tyres.

"I don't believe so. Why should I think that? I've never heard of that in Formula One," he said.

Despite the unfamiliar feeling of a flat grand prix, he attempted to put on a brave face.

"I'm very chilled about Singapore," said the Briton. "I went there to do a job. I'm fully aware you can't win them all.

"We're very fortunate to have had the success we've had.

"Again, I performed how I hoped to perform, I was ahead of my team-mate in qualifying and in the race.

"The car broke down. That was the first time in a long time.

"And I didn't lose a huge amount of points to the guy who's right behind me."

Mercedes are expected to return to their best on the long straights and fast corners of Suzuka. Hamilton and Rosberg dominated qualifying and the race last year but Singapore was such an unexplained jolt that no one is entirely certain.

For neutrals, there was nothing bad about the outcome of the race. Ferrari, who had updated their car, looked strong as Vettel closed the gap with Hamilton to 49 points. He is only eight points behind Rosberg in second with six races left.

Christian Horner said Vettel, his former driver, may have a glimmer of hope.

"I think it is a long shot and I think it is very easy to get carried away in the moment," the Red Bull team chief said.

"What has been difficult to understand is the fact Mercedes have struggled to be competitive.

"If that carries through, then Ferrari have a chance."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2015, with the headline 'HAMILTON FEARS ANOTHER SCREW-UP'. Print Edition | Subscribe