Lewis Hamilton has Singapore GP regret as Mercedes gamble fails to stop Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton was happy with his Singapore Grand Prix podium but was still left to rue his underwhelming qualifying result.
The seven-time world champion finished third behind winner Carlos Sainz and runner-up Lando Norris. He inherited that position from George Russell who, while pushing to catch the McLaren on the last lap, crashed out.
It was the result of a bold strategy call from Mercedes, pitting their drivers to lose places but give them fresher, faster tyres for the final stint. They had greater pace but just ran out of time to catch Sainz and Norris.
Third place and the extra point for the fastest lap was a satisfying result for Hamilton, who had started fifth on the grid. And he also enjoyed overtaking both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the race, as Red Bull struggled as they had done all weekend.
But still, when speaking to Sky Sports, Hamilton's immediate reaction was to rue his starting position. "It's all in hindsight but I think, the thing I'm most disappointed with... George was so close to pole yesterday, I should have been on pole yesterday," he said.
"We had a good race. The race was textbook, the team did a good job with the strategy. I'm in my element in the race, but qualifying just needs to get better. George was great all weekend but, yeah, as a team we risked it at the end and took the chance, and I love that the team was doing that.
"But it was a big gap to close up and it was hard to overtake those guys at the end of the race. We probably needed another five to 10 laps and I think we would have got them."
Asked why his qualifying form has dipped, Hamilton added: "It's not just the car, like I said George was on the front row. I think it's me, it's my driving style, changes I'm making – it's a lot of different things. So I need to look into that and I will. I'll keep my head down, keep pushing, and I won't be satisfied until I get back there."
Meanwhile, Russell was visibly emotional as he reacted to the crash which cost him that podium place. "No words, to be honest," he said. "Such a long and difficult race. Difficult to keep concentration when Carlos was doing a great job backing the pack up and not allowing us to do the alternative strategy.
"I think we were half a car's length from winning the race had I got past Lando when I had the opportunity. I think we'd have been able to get past Carlos. On the last lap, a millimetre's lapse in concentration and it's game over. I'm so sorry to the whole team.
"It was a really challenging race with the tyres dropping off, pushing the limits. It's how racing should be and you make a small mistake and you're bitten for it.
"It's heart-breaking after such a great weekend. The car felt great, qualifying, the race was great and we were bold with the strategy. I feel like I've let myself and the team down. It's tough. We'll be back."