Starting 12th on the grid – following the first time in 67 races that he has failed to get past the second qualifying round – Hamilton was hit by a puncture and a radio failure that meant he could not hear his team’s instructions.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started on pole and disappeared over the horizon, winning in one hour, 18 minutes and 33 seconds, extending his lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso – who finished second yesterday – to 53 points. Hamilton trails Vettel by 81 points.
“Obviously that’s that for the championship,” said a dejected Hamilton, conceding that he is out of the title race despite having seven races to go. “I’m very disappointed with myself; I blew it in qualifying and it was just impossible to catch up. Overall [it was] just a disaster of a weekend.”
The race began with two Ferraris surging past Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber and then Mark Webber’s Red Bull, much to the delight of the Italian fans known as tifosi. Yet Webber fought back to finish on the podium, while Hulkenberg’s fifth place finish may boost his hope of replacing Massa at Ferrari next year.
Britain’s Paul Di Resta crashed his Force India car on lap one, while Jenson Button narrowly got his McLaren into the points, ending 10th.