ABU DHABI (AFP) - World champion Lewis Hamilton tried a radical new set-up approach Saturday in his failed attempt to end Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg's run of six straight pole positions.
The three-time world champion ended up second on the grid behind the 30-year-old German for Sunday's Abu Dhabi race where last year, in a showdown for the title, he made a dazzling start and won after Rosberg retired with mechanical problems.
"I'm still trying to win, for sure," said the Briton ahead of the season finale.
"I am hoping and will be working very hard to make a good start and see what can happen from there, but Nico did a great job today.
"I did my best today. We worked as hard as we could, with the engineers, to try and go around it, try something different.
"We've tried something completely different this weekend and... well, so-so. Generally it gets a bit better in the race.
"I'm struggling on the edge with the car. I'm a lot more comfortable in the beginning of the race.
"I said coming into this weekend, trying to make some changes... it disadvantages myself, by taking something off my car that was a benefit, but at the end of the day I wasn't good enough this time."
Hamilton has said repeatedly since the Singapore Grand Prix, where four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari dominated, that his car has not had the right balance.
Various changes were made there, during Mercedes' worst weekend of the season, and Hamilton believes his car has not been the same since.
"It's just a balance thing," said Hamilton. "It's been different for a few races now. I'd much rather be on pole, of course, and I was working as hard as I could towards that, but Nico did such a great job.
"It is tough to overtake here as, although you've got the DRS zone down the back straight, you can't follow through Turns 2 and 3, so the gap gets pulled out."
Hamilton has not taken a pole position since the Italian Grand Prix in September and has remained on 49 career poles for the last seven races.
He has not won since he clinched his third title and second in succession with Mercedes at last month's United States Grand Prix.