Hamilton, who started the race in pole position, was leading comfortably before his McLaren suffered a gearbox problem and forced him to retire from the race.
Fellow countryman and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button survived an accident-packed race to finish second behind Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who won in two hours and 26 seconds. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso completed the podium and now enjoys a 52 point lead over Hamilton.
“It’s heartbreaking not to have finished the race today – we definitely had the pace to win this weekend,” Hamilton said.
“Obviously, I was disappointed, but the good thing we can take away from this weekend is that we have extremely good pace. As a result, I think we can really attack in the next few races.”
While Hamilton admits that it will be extremely tough to close the gap on Alonso and Vettel, he said: “I’ll never give up. There are six more races, and I need to go and win all six. I’ll fight until the end.”
Hamilton enjoyed a clean start to the race, while Vettel overtook Williams’ Pastor Maldonado almost immediately. Hamilton maintained the lead but on lap 22 was forced into retirement.
The race was twice disturbed by crashes, yet Vettel was unperturbed and maintained his lead in convincing style.
Alonso leads the championship on 194 points while Vettel now moves up to 165. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, who finished sixth, is on 149 points, with Hamilton remaining on 142