Lewis Hamilton says he is in his “element” in race trim after claiming a podium finish in Singapore, but points the finger at himself over his one-lap struggles.
Hamilton could not hide his disappointment after qualifying as he managed only P5 on the grid, all while Mercedes team-mate George Russell fell just 0.072s short of pole position.
The race though was a far stronger outing for the seven-time World Champion, who was able to secure a P3 podium finish, his fifth top-three result of the season.
Lewis Hamilton “loved” Mercedes race strategy
After accepting that race leader Carlos Sainz could not be beaten in a straight fight, Mercedes rolled the dice by switching to a two-stop strategy, Russell and Hamilton then armed with fresh medium tyres as Mercedes double-stacked their drivers under the Virtual Safety Car.
Russell was set to complete the podium, but clipping the wall at Turn 10 as he harried Lando Norris, Russell crashed out, allowing Hamilton to come through and claim P3.
Hamilton said Mercedes needed another five to 10 laps in order to win the race with this strategy, but praised his team for giving it a go.
Asked by Sky F1 if the victory was possible for Mercedes this weekend, Hamilton replied: “It’s all in hindsight, but I think the thing I was disappointed with was yes…George was so close to pole yesterday, I should have been on pole yesterday.
“But then we had a good race. The race was kind of textbook. The team did a great job with the strategy. I’m in my element in the race, it’s just qualifying needs to get better. George was great all weekend.
“But yeah, I think as a team, we risked it at the end and took a chance and I loved that the team was doing that.
“But it was a big gap to close up. It’s definitely hard to overtake those guys at the end of the race. But probably needed another five, 10 laps and I think we would have got them.”
Lewis Hamilton not blaming car for one-lap struggles
Having referenced his desire to improve over one lap, Hamilton was asked whether something needs to change with the Mercedes W14 for that to happen.
Hamilton though did not point the finger at the car, instead claiming it is he who has work to do to improve.
“It’s clearly not just the car, George as I said was on the front row,” said Hamilton.
“So I think it’s me, it’s just my driving style. It’s changes that perhaps I’m making, it’s a lot of different things.
“So I need to look into that and I will, naturally keep my head down, keep pushing, not satisfied until I get back there.”
Hamilton did at least boot former team-mate Fernando Alonso out of P3 in the Drivers’ standings with his Singapore podium.