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GP Week : Issue 168
29 GPWEEK.com // 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SINGAPORE It wasn’t long ago that Fernando Alonso named Lewis Hamilton as his chief rival for this year’s championship crown. But the Briton’s hopes of achieving a second world title were dealt a significant blow when a gearbox failure forced him out of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix. A brace of wins at the Hungarian and Italian races were enough to propel Hamilton up to second, albeit 37-points adrift of Alonso, in the Drivers’ standings as Formula 1 left Europe. Pole position in Singapore backed up Alonso’s theory and served as an ominous indication that the Hamilton-McLaren driver- team combination is the one to beat for the remainder of the 2012 season. The 26-year old surged away from the grid for the start of what would be the longest and one of the most physically and mentally demanding races of the year. He kept fellow title-rival Sebastien Vettel at bay throughout the first stint and the start of the second until, at the start of lap 23, a gearbox failure spelled the end of his race. Now lying fourth in the standings and a full 52-points adrift of championship leader Alonso, Hamilton acknowledges that any mistakes and misfortune at such a critical stage of the 2012 campaign are costly. He said: “It’s heart-breaking not to have finished the race today. We definitely had the pace to win this weekend. In fact, before I retired, I was cruising; just managing the gap back to Sebastien Vettel. “Obviously, I was disappointed, but the good thing we can take away from this weekend is that we have extremely good pace. As a result, I think we can really attack in the next few races. It’s going to be hard to close the gap to guys like Fernando [Alonso] and Sebastian [Vettel], especially when they keep finishing race after race, but I’ll never give up. “There are six more races, and I need to go and win all six. I’ll fight until the end.” HAMILTON’S TITLE CHARGE TAKES A HIT Despite pole position and an excelent start to the race, Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire on lap 23 due to gearbox failure.