x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Hurt goes on for Lewis Hamilton

McLaren driver started in pole and was in the lead when his car stalled.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

ABU DHABI // Heartbreak was Lewis Hamilton's only reward at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday as the defending champion's hopes of a second successful victory in the capital disappeared into the Arabian night.

The McLaren driver, who proved fastest in Saturday's qualifying, started well from pole position and, although experiencing an early scare when he made a mistake while trying to warm up his tyres, seemed well placed to take a 21st win of his Formula One career.

Hamilton was almost half-a-second-per-lap quicker than Kimi Raikkonen, the second-placed Finn, when his car stalled around the back of the circuit. The Briton was forced to pull off the track at Turn 16, continuing McLaren's miserable recent run of reliability.

"I hadn't been faultless in this race because I did have a very wide moment at one stage, but after that it was going really well and the car was a dream to drive," said Hamilton, who is fifth in the drivers' competition.

"I was cruising and pulling away so it was a shame the engine just died. We hadn't brought any upgrades and hopefully we'll have some for the next race.

"I hope the car performs over the next two races to finish up at the front for the last time. I'm happy with the job I did, I couldn't have done any more."

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren team principal, said a faulty fuel pump that caused the problem was supplied by Mercedes, yet refused to blame the manufacturers for Hamilton's early exit.

"It's more bitter than sweet but Lewis did a great job, did everything right and it should have been in the bag for us - so gutting, but that sometimes happens," he said.

"We've had a quick car and haven't got all the points we should have. We're obviously a little bit disappointed right now, but we'll look forward with a quick car and two motivated drivers and go out and try to win those two races."

jmcauley@thenational.ae