Hamiltons Malaysian strife tarnishes Melbourne shine 23 Mar 2008
Following his dominant performance in Melbourne, McLarens Lewis Hamilton had set a formidable benchmark for his 2008 season. But a week later at Sundays Malaysian Grand Prix the situation couldnt be more different, with Hamilton forced onto the back foot after a difficult Sepang weekend.
Hamiltons troubles started on Saturday, with both he and team mate Heikki Kovalainen dropping five places on the grid, after stewards decided the duo had blocked rivals during the closing stages of Q3. An excellent start by the British driver, however, saw him leapfrog up the field but he was then caught behind Red Bulls Mark Webber and was unable to get by.
I got a really good start and was pretty happy as we jumped five positions from ninth to fifth, explained Hamilton. I was pushing Mark for a very long time, but being behind someone, no matter how quick you are, it is really difficult to get past. We were in a good position for a shot at third place at least.
A subsquent problem with Hamiltons right-front wheel doubled his time in the pits and he dropped down to 11th. Despite fighting his way back up the field, traffic, and then the unexpectedly quick Toyota of Jarno Trulli, once again added to Hamiltons predicament and he eventually finished in fifth.
I did the best job I could, he added. However we take away the fact that the car ran very reliably in these extreme conditions, and I was able to push Jarno right until the last second. I have to say that both Mark and Jarno drove really well today, and it was great to fight them out on track today.
Hamiltons Malaysia outing eventually earned him four points towards his championship tally, but Kimi Raikkonens win means the Finn and BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld take up second and third places in the standings, each on 11 points - just three shy of Hamiltons total.