Wheel failure ruins Hamilton`s day in the sun

Madrid: Lewis Hamilton cast around for positives on Sunday after a wheel rim failure pitched him out of the Spanish Grand Prix while in second place and with only a lap to go.

The misfortune left the McLaren driver further than ever behind championship leading team mate Jenson Button after five of 19 races.

"I`m absolutely gutted that my accident happened so close to the finish, but that`s motor racing," said the 2008 champion, who set the fastest lap of a race won at a canter by Red Bull`s Mark Webber at the Circuit de Catalunya.

"The guys did an incredible job all weekend, though."

"There are many more races to go this season and I`ll keep my chin up. I know we can still fight for this championship," added the 25-year-old.

The silver McLaren, with the front wheel flapping and flailing, careered off the track and into the tyre wall without any warning.

Instead of closing the gap at the top to a single point ahead of next weekend`s Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton dropped to sixth overall and 21 points adrift of Button.

"Up until that point it was pretty positive, I was just cruising to the finish line," he said.

"I didn`t sense anything odd before the accident, the car was feeling great, so that`s why it was such a surprise," added the driver, who has earned scant reward for some thrilling drives this season.

The blowout was similar to one that Hamilton suffered at the Nuerburgring in his 2007 debut season and the Briton reflected ruefully that he seemed to have more than his fair share of such incidents.

"It`s my third or fourth tyre blow out in my career. More than most people have in their whole lifetime," he said.

Button, who finished in fifth place, also had his own problems when the dashboard display failed just as he was trying to get past the Mercedes of seven times world champion Michael Schumacher.

"He lost the dash early in the race, he then couldn`t run the launch sequence at the pitstop," said team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

"That then caused clutch drag, because he was at too high rpm, the wheels were spinning and that delayed the pitstop. Otherwise he would have come out ahead of Michael quite easily. So it was no fault of the driver."

Button said the car`s pace was encouraging, which made the failure even more frustrating.

"As everyone knows, it`s almost impossible to overtake around here and Michael was moving about a bit to make sure I couldn`t get past," he said.

"Fifth wasn`t the result we`d wanted and it wasn`t the result we really deserved either because we were pretty quick."

Bureau Report