ABU DHABI • Lewis Hamilton has pointed out that his Mercedes engineers' strategy left him "with a mountain to climb" to beat team-mate Nico Rosberg in Sunday's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The newly crowned three-time Formula One world champion did not go so far as to blame them for his third straight defeat by the 30-year-German in succession. But he made it clear that, after showing superior pace during the middle of the race, he had hoped for a chance to fight for the 44th win of his career.
In the end he had to settle for a distant second place in a race dominated by Rosberg from pole position.
Hamilton closed his gap to Rosberg to 1.359 seconds before the German pitted for a second time, but found himself 12.573sec adrift after his own second stop 10 laps later.
"I don't know the big picture and ultimately you have to rely on the engineers to give you the optimum strategy," he said later. "Honestly, I don't really understand it, but I came out 11 seconds behind.
"I had a mountain to climb, which I pushed as hard as I could, but then the tyres went off. It's a shame, because I was quicker in the middle stint."
His team boss Toto Wolff said Hamilton made his own decisions, in liaison with his race engineer Peter Bonnington, during the race.
"We gave him all the options. It was important for the fans to see," said Wolff. "He couldn't really make a decision. The option tyre (a super-soft tyre) had eight laps, but even though the car was lighter it would not have lasted until the end.
"It was a decision in his garage to go on (the ordinary soft tyre) to the end. There were lots of conversations and I'm not sure it was all broadcast, between his race engineer and him, to decide what to go for. We wanted to give him a real shot at the win at the end, but the pace was not there at the end."
Also upset was Fernando Alonso, who launched an angry outburst at motor sports' ruling body, telling it to focus on the serious problems facing Formula One and to be fairer in its decision-making, after being penalised on his way to 17th place.
Alonso believed he was unfairly punished when his McLaren car came into contact with Felipe Nasr's Sauber, and he could not avoid a collision with Pastor Maldonado's Lotus. He said that the International Automobile Federation (FIA) had missed an opportunity to demonstrate justice and good sense.
"We see the grandstands half empty on this circuit - and half empty on most circuits," said the Spaniard. "And there are championships which are overtaking us on the right, like WEC (world endurance), MotoGP (motorcycling). And then we are trying to make the cars louder! I think we need a bit of common sense.
"To have a drive-through (penalty) after you've been hit by another car is a bit strange. (FIA) need to get some consistency in the penalties, some common sense and be fair."
Alonso's frustration after a season of disappointment with McLaren following his move from Ferrari may have influenced his feelings, but it could not hide the truths in his comments about F1's current crisis.
Embroiled in financial, political and technical problems, the season ended on Sunday with few signals that a brighter future lies ahead.