Lewis Hamilton backtracks from post-Italian GP stance that the title race is over
However, Mercedes driver admits "it's the tallest order ever" for him
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 18/09/13 5:11pm
Lewis Hamilton: Gap to Sebastian Vettel now stands at 81 points
Lewis Hamilton has backtracked from his stance post-Italian Grand Prix that the World Championship is now over - although the Mercedes driver stressed that, for him, it represents the "tallest order ever".
Stepping from his car after finishing a lowly ninth at Monza, Hamilton declared: "That's that for the Championship." Sebastian Vettel had just claimed victory and also extended his lead over the 2008 World Champion to 81 points.
Clearly frustrated at the end of a weekend which had first brought his worst qualifying performance in three years, and then a slow puncture in the race itself, Hamilton had taken stock by Sunday evening.
"When I got out the car I was angry and definitely thought that could be it. But I went back to my engineers...and I'm not going to give up," he declared.
"I've got to win every race basically. It's the tallest order ever, but I can do nothing but try."
Hamilton lined up 12th on the grid after a fraught qualifying session during which his car suffered floor damage when he ran off the track.
Although optimistic he could come through the field, Hamilton's race was undone by a slow puncture during the race's early laps.
"Yesterday, I handled it probably the best I've ever handled it: I was angry within myself, like I always am. But I got over it way, way faster than I ever have in my life," he claimed.
"I got over it, turned it into a positive, came here this morning energised and excited - and felt really good in the race.
"I pushed and drove harder than ever. I really felt like I'd got nothing left in my heart at the end of it.
"I was angry because it just sucks that you do all that work, and everyone in the factory and the garage does all that work, and you get two points.
"But that's the way it goes and we'll improve at the next races."
A pointer to what might have been was the fact that Hamilton set the race's fastest lap. Vettel's best was only good enough for 12th fastest overall, although the Briton explained that, "I had fresher tyres; I had more tyres than him. So he would have been looking after those tyres and extending it over a longer period of time.
"Naturally he was much quicker, but I felt the car was good enough to have been higher up."