Lewis Hamilton disappointed he couldn't exit McLaren with win but wished them well
Mercs-bound star also refuses to rebuke Hulk after clash
By James Galloway. Last Updated: November 25, 2012 10:25pm
A philosophical Lewis Hamilton expressed his regret at not being able to end his final race for McLaren with a victory but wished his long-time team well for their new era without him in 2013.
Despite the extraordinary topsy-turvy nature of Sunday's Brazil race, and the fact he lost the lead to team-mate Jenson Button on the eighth lap and then also slipped behind Force India's charging Nico Hulkenberg, Hamilton was still on course to end the campaign with back-to-back wins having recovered to the lead after a mid-race safety car.
However, with 16 laps to go, the Force India was back on his tail and, approaching the first corner, Hulkenberg sought to take advantage as the McLaren navigated around a backmarker and make his move for the lead.
However, the attempt ended in disaster for both as Hulkenberg only slid into the McLaren under braking, breaking Hamilton's front-left suspension.
The German was swiftly handed a drive-through penalty for the incident but that was little consolation for Hamilton, who pulled into retirement soon afterwards, scuppering his attempt at departing for Mercedes on the ultimate high.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 with the end of his McLaren career no doubt fast dawning on him, Hamilton chose not to criticise Hulkenberg and instead expressed his pleasure that his team-mate Jenson Button had at least been able to pick up the pieces and win the race for the Woking team.
"I don't even remember too much about it and to be honest it doesn't even matter," he said of the crash, for which Hulkenberg later went to see Hamilton directly to apologise for.
"It's been a positive season still. Congratulations to Jenson, and to Sebastian [Vettel], what a great day for them and for the team we still [won the race].
"It's a little bit of a shame we didn't get the second in the Constructors' but I tried my best."
The disappointing finish at Interlagos reflected a season of unfulfilled promise in general for both Hamilton and McLaren, a number of mechanical retirements and operational errors having put the 2008 champion out of the running for the title long before Brazil.
Reflecting on 2012 in general, Hamilton expressed disappointment that he wasn't a more central part of the title decider but said McLaren should be pleased with the competitiveness of their car at season's end, even if would he personally wouldn't be there to take advantage of any carry-over into next season.
"It's been a little bit unfortunate we weren't there for the [title] fight but it's great to see the performance that the team had at the end of the year and I really wish them the best for next year and the future," he said.
And asked for his emotions ahead of his big winter move, Hamilton added: "I guess mixed emotions. The team have been fantastic, so supportive, and they did an amazing job. Unfortunate I couldn't have done it for them, but Jenson did, so that's a positive.
"Sad about the race in some ways but excited about the future as well. So it's a mix of emotions."