Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton look a cert for victory in yesterday afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix when after dominating all weekend , in practice and qualifying, he was pulling out a healthy lead over the chasing Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Concerned about losing track position when he came in for his second stop, Lewis had to work up a 24 second gap over third Verstappen and was almost there when the unthinkable happened….
“Max (Verstappen) was in my pit window so I was just trying to push him out of it. I think I'd done that, almost. But then, on the straight, I just lost power all of a sudden. You could hear something blew and I obviously had to stop.”
Fans and his team heard him cry out over the radio…”Oh no, no no…” as flames could be spotted coming out of the rear of his Mercedes Benz engine. Climbing from the car, his shoulders hunched in disappointment, the reigning world champion’s devastation was plain for all to see as he crouched down on the grass and held his head in his hands.
“Honestly, you've got to understand it from my point of view. On one side, we've had the most incredible success these past two years, for which I'm so grateful. These guys work so hard and we're all feeling the pain right now. When you get out of the car - that feeling you have after leading the race and then your car fails - it's pretty hard to say positive things at the time.”
After he made his way back to the pits, knowing that he would now fall even further behind his teammate in the championship battle, Lewis took a small amount of time to get his thoughts together before speaking to the awaiting media. When asked for his thoughts, Hamilton explained how he felt things weren’t right that it was just his Mercedes engines, out of 8 on the grid at every event, which have had problems.
“As I said in the TV interviews, Mercedes have built 43 engines or however many it might be with the extra three I've had, and I have happen to have most of, if not all of, the failures. So, that is definitely tough to take.”
However, that said, he has never doubted the team and the work they all do to put a world championship winning car beneath him at every race event….
“I have 100% confidence in these guys. It's my fourth year with them now and the guys in the garage and back at the factories - I have 100% faith in them. I love it here and without them I would not have won these two Championships. While the struggle is real right now and has been all year, I honestly feel that it's a test of my will, my spirit and who I am as a person to get back in and keep fighting it head on.”
“It's not how you fall, it's how you get back up. That applies not just to me but to the guys as well.”
Lewis was not the only one upset by the situation as team boss Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda could be seen in the garage visibly distressed. However, from this negative, Lewis is finding the positives and will now try to put it all behind him and head to the next round in Japan confident that his run of bad luck is well and truly over…..
“I saw tears in the eyes of my mechanics so I know that we all bear the pain. But, as I said, it's how we re-group. We have to keep in mind what we've already built. While in the short term it doesn't look good and for the long-term this year it might not be so good, there are still lots of positives. There's still five races to go and if I can perform the way I performed this weekend there's still everything to play for.”
“We will learn. The guys will take the engine back and they'll understand what happened. Every time we've had engine issues they've gone away and found out why. It puts us potentially in a better position to make sure it doesn't happen next year.”
“All I can do is what I've done this weekend. Come correct, be as focused as I can possibly be, put in this kind of performance and pray that the car holds together. I still have faith and hope. That's a powerful thing."
"It feels a little bit like the man above, or a higher power, is intervening a little bit. But I feel like I've been blessed with the opportunity firstly to be here with so many great people around me, in this great team, to have won these last two Championships with lots and lots of victories and records that I'm breaking time and time again.”
“Whilst it does not feel great right now, I have to be grateful for all of that. If at the end of the year the higher powers don't want me to be Champion after everything I've given towards it, I will have to accept that."
"As long as I end the year knowing that I've given it everything, done everything I could possibly do and that we've done everything we could possibly do, that's all you can ask for. Don't forget that I'm World Champion. I'll be okay.”