Lewis Hamilton believes that he could have won the Singapore Grand Prix had it not been for a failure on his power unit that resigned him to his first retirement of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
Mercedes struggled for pace throughout practice and qualifying at Marina Bay, leaving Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg fifth and sixth on the grid for the start.
Although neither driver could make up any positions early on, they managed to jump up one place each thanks to a safety car period which cost the early-stopping Daniil Kvyat time.
Mercedes opted to gamble and fit the prime tire to both cars, leaving the quicker options for the final stint of the race in a reverse strategy to the front-running drivers.
Hamilton managed to stay within sight of the leaders when running fourth at the beginning of his second stint as race leader Sebastian Vettel tried to conserve his tires and bunch the field up. He soon reported a loss of power that eventually resulted in his retirement from the race after 32 laps.
According to Mercedes, “Lewis’ problem was diagnosed as a loss of boost pressure caused by the failure of a clamp between the intercooler and plenum”.
Speaking after the race, Hamilton said that he thought he could have won the race with his strategy given the pace of the cars at the front of the pack.
“The race was going very well. For me it felt like I was driving at my best in the race,” Hamilton said.
“I think I had the pace to win. I did everything. I was on the prime keeping up easily with the guys at the front on the option. My pace was really good when I started to lose power. I felt like the team was working as hard as they could and these kinds of things just happen.
“It’s unfortunate for the team as I was feeling real good out there, so optimistic, but it was better to retire and save the engine. We will work really hard on figuring out what it was but I am not worried about losing this engine.”
Hamilton has now set his sights on bouncing back in next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and adding to his 41-point lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.
“Our reliability is really high as we had an amazing season so far,” Hamilton said.
“It’s still a long way to go and I know I lost some points today, but I was fast and on form and I will make sure I bring that out to Suzuka to fight back.”