MONTE CARLO // Once again, Lewis Hamilton was left lamenting his McLaren-Mercedes team's poor performance after watching third place on the gird become a fifth-place finish following a disappointing start and mistimed pit stop.
Hamilton, winner of the 2008 world championship, endured a poor getaway at the Monaco Grand Prix when the lights went out and struggled to keep pace with the leaders Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, while Fernando Alonso, starting 10 metres behind, hunted him down like prey into the first corner, though was unable to get past the Briton.
"My start was one of the worst starts I've had in a long time," Hamilton said.
"I just don't understand why it happened when the two guys next to me and the guy behind me got perfect starts.
"We do thousands and thousands of starts through the year, so it should not be a problem."
The 27 year old slipped behind Alonso when the pair pitted early in the race and when Sebastian Vettel, running a different strategy, elected to pit after 45 laps of the race, Hamilton was left frustrated as the German returned to the track ahead of him.
"I don't know how long my pit stop was, but I lost quite a lot of time," he said.
"I just was not able to really keep up with Alonso, and Sebastian got me through his pit stop, and then it didn't seem possible to overtake. "
Hamilton is yet to win in 2012 despite twice starting from pole position, with his best result being third place, achieved three times in Australia, Malaysia and China.
"There are many more races ahead, but we've definitely got some work to do because, race by race, we're struggling to keep up," he added.
Jenson Button, Hamilton's teammate, was forced to retire with a puncture courtesy of a collision with Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen following a frustrating afternoon.
The Englishman, champion in 2009, said his disappointing performance stemmed from "a poor qualifying performance and being unlucky at the start - also, when you start from the mid-grid, you're more prone to incidents."