Hamilton “gutted” to retire early on in Japan

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Lewis Hamilton’s Japanese Grand Prix weekend came to a disappointing end on Sunday as he retired from the race on lap nine as a result of contact at the first corner.

The Briton made a good start (pictured) but he made contact with Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull and received a puncture on his right-rear tire. Hamilton dropped to the back of the field and pitted for repairs, but ultimately the damage to his car proved to be too great and he retired eight laps later.

“I got a fantastic start this afternoon, better than both Red Bulls for probably the first time this year,” Hamilton said. “Mark moved right, so I had to move as well, which sandwiched Sebastian between me and Romain. Seb’s front wing clipped my right rear, cut the tire and that was that. It wasn’t his fault at all, just one of those things that wasn’t meant to be this afternoon.”

Hamilton said that he felt bad about the incident following his team’s hard work across the course of the race weekend.

“I feel most gutted for the team – the guys here at the track and in the factory – because they are doing an amazing job right now and we’re just not getting the reward for it,” he said.

Hamilton has failed to finish on the podium in the past four races and he is now mathematically unable to win the drivers’ championship this year.

Mercedes’ attention will now turn to the constructors’ championship with the German marque battling with Ferrari and Lotus for second place, but Hamilton’s retirement and Rosberg’s eighth-place finish meant that the Silver Arrows are now ten points behind their Italian rivals.