Hamilton looks for positives
Lewis Hamilton has sought to put a brave face on the bitter disappointment of being forced to retire from the Australian GP due to an engine malfunction.
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And it was all going so well - or at least it was until race day when Hamilton's grand prix was effectively over even before it had begun as his Mercedes W05, so impressive twenty-four hours earlier as it claimed pole position, developed a crippling loss of power.
Off the line, Hamilton was powerless - his car almost literally so - to fend off team-mate Nico Rosberg as the German skilfully exploited his partner's demise and by lap three, with Hamilton falling back into the midfield, it was game over. "That is how cruel motor racing can be," observed team boss Toto Wolff forlornly.
But if Hamilton was feeling any sense of grievance about his bad luck, the pre-season favourite was, to his credit, keeping it well hidden when he faced up to the press afterwards.
"I was driving on five cylinders, it's a bit unfortunate but that's racing," he told Sky Sports F1. "We had great pace this weekend, Nico is doing a great job, and I hope at least one of our makes it. We will recover from this. It's just a small hiccup, there's a long way to go."
Although the W05 is by a clear margin the fastest car in the field at present, as stressed by Rosberg's cruise to victory in Sunday's race, Mercedes' reliability issues are an ongoing concern. Hamilton failed to complete a single race simulation during winter testing and the sight of the W05 crawling to a halt at the start of Sunday's race wasn't altogether surprising.
"We knew that even on the formation lap that the engine wasn't running on all cylinders," confirmed Mercedes' technical chief Paddy Lowe. "Lewis didn't know, we just thought we would see how the pace was. We knew from the start and you saw it clearly at the start he went back to P3."
The team are, however, hopeful that Hamilton's problem will not trigger one of the five engine changes that every driver will be allotted over the 19-race season.
"We have a problem with this engine, but it might be repairable," said Wolff.
The second race of the season takes place in two weeks' time in Malaysia.