x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

'Stupid' Hamilton unable to enjoy his centenary race

The McLaren-Mercedes driver's 100th grands prix in Formula One proved one to forget at the German Grand Prix.

McLaren Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives with a flat tire at the Hockenheimring circuit on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim during the German Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ
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McLaren Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives with a flat tire at the Hockenheimring circuit on July 22, 2012 in Hockenheim during the German Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ *** Local Caption *** 040016-01-08.jpg

HOCKENHEIM // Lewis Hamilton began his race day ahead of the German Grand Prix by uncharacteristically blitzing his Twitter timeline with a number of messages featuring the hashtag #Lewis100.

The Englishman, 27, was competing in his 100th Formula One race and, starting from seventh on the grid, was in candidly high spirits.

Yet, by the time he tweeted his "congrats" to the race winner Fernando Alonso, such had been his misfortune he must have surely tried to block out much of the previous two hours.

By the end of the second lap at the Hockenheimring, he was last in the field; by the 56th lap of 67 he was forced to retire; and in the post-race news conference he was called "stupid" by Sebastian Vettel, the world champion.

A memorable day indeed.

Hamilton suffered a right rear tyre puncture on the second lap after running through debris, the result of a collision involving Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. Forced to trundle around the circuit towards the pits, he told his team over the radio that he should retire. Instead, they fixed him up and sent him back out, where he fought his way up to 16th before his race ended prematurely because of damage to the rear of the car.

"My second-lap puncture was incredibly unfortunate: there was debris scattered across the full width of the track and I didn't have any option other than to drive straight through it," Hamilton said.

"What's more frustrating is that, at the time, I was the eighth car through - so to be the one to get the puncture is just cruel luck. It was immediately clear that my car didn't feel the same after the puncture.

"However, after a few laps, I was able to adapt my driving style, and the car had good pace during the middle stint. However, with the damage to the rear, I think we were lucky to get that far, to be honest."

The 2008 world champion, having pitted for fresh tyres later in the race, found himself faster than the majority of the field - including the race leader. As he passed Vettel - embroiled in a battle for the lead with Alonso - the German shook his fist at him.

Later, the Red Bull Racing driver claimed Hamilton lost him a position and said: "That was not nice of him. I don't see the point why he's trying to race us. If he wants to go fast he can drop back, find a gap and go fast there. But it's a bit stupid to disturb the leaders."

Hamilton did not respond and instead chose to focus on the brighter side of life. Four hours after the chequered flag fell, he tweeted once more. "Tough day," it read, "But I get to fly out in a candy apple red helicopter. #Lewis100".

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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