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GP Week : Issue 171
27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> KOREA A dejected Lewis Hamilton says hopes of netting a second world drivers’ title in 2012 are all but gone after a taxing Korean Grand Prix for the Briton and his McLaren team. After salvaging a fifth place result from a hard-fought Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton found himself in a distant fourth in the drivers’ championship and required a strong finish relative to the pace-setting Red Bulls in Korea to reignite his title charge. Third place in qualifying for the start of Sunday’s race in Yeongam provided the 26-year old with some hope, but his race would be blighted by high wear on both Pirelli’s super-soft and soft tyre compounds, as a result of a rear anti-roll bar failure. This forced him to switch to a slower three-stop strategy and the final nail in the coffin came in the last stint when he picked up a stray piece of Astroturf, resulting in a significant loss of rear downforce – this meant the Briton could only score a solitary point for 10th place, as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber achieved a timely one-two victory. “I was trying my best, pushing all the way – but it was extremely hard to maintain a good pace,” said Hamilton. “The balance was switching from corner to corner, the car was moving around along the straights, and it was eating up the tyres, which meant we lost further ground by being forced onto a three-stop strategy. “To make things even more difficult, I then picked up some run-off Astroturf, which tangled itself around my sideboard winglet for the final few laps. It stalled the diffuser – I had no rear downforce at the end, which made it even trickier to hang onto 10th place.” Retirement for Jenson Button after a first-lap collision with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi allowed Ferrari to leapfrog McLaren for second place in the constructors’ table. And while it’s still mathematically possible for Hamilton to win this year’s drivers’ crown, he is now resigned to the fact that it may be a stretch too far. Although he insists he will keep pushing. He said: “In terms of winning the world championship, logic suggests that that’s probably it for me. Having said that, there are a lot of points still up for grabs, so I’ll keep pushing – stranger things have happened and I’ll never give up.” HAMILTON’S TITLE HOPES IN TATTERS