PARIS // Lewis Hamilton has said he will now single-mindedly focus on Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix after putting behind him the disappointment of McLaren's failed appeal. McLaren's protest at the 25-second drive-through penalty handed to Hamilton at the recent Belgian Grand Prix which relegated him from first to third was ruled as inadmissible on Tuesday by the FIA International Court of Appeal.
Their decision means Hamilton, 23, goes into the first night race in the history of Formula One at the new Singapore street circuit on Sunday still in possession of a slender one-point cushion over Ferrari's Felipe Massa when it could have been seven. That is of little consequence now for the Briton who knows all that matters is how he and McLaren perform for the remaining four races of the season.
"I don't bank on anything other than myself and my team, and so I am focused on my challenge and my racing," insisted Hamilton. "I'm not thinking about the title or the other drivers, just about doing the best job I can each time I get into the car. "Clearly a number of drivers can still win the title, and so I have to make sure I do my best." Appreciably, though, there was frustration from Hamilton with the decision of the judges as he had urged them on Monday to see the truth. But they did not even get so far as debating the case surrounding his manoeuvre on Raikkonen at Spa that sparked a furious debate.
Effectively, Hamilton spent an hour in defending the legitimacy of his corner-cutting move for nothing. Instead, the judges went with the rulebook that states a drive-through penalty is "not susceptible to an appeal". In Hamilton's eyes, the judges and the stewards, who it could be argued made an error with the penalty they administered, have forsaken the competitive spirit of Formula One. At a time when the sport faces constant criticism for its lack of overtaking, Hamilton's battle with Raikkonen in the closing stages at Spa has been belittled.
"People will probably expect me to be depressed about the result, but that isn't me," he added. "All I want to do now is put this matter behind me and get on with what we drivers do best - racing each other. We're racers, we're naturally competitive and we love to overtake. "Overtaking is difficult, and it feels great when you manage to pull off a great passing mano- euvre. "If it pleases the spectators and TV viewers, it's better still. So I'm disappointed, yes, but not depressed."
* PA Sport