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Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 17:48 UK

'Driving on ice' dismays Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton dejected after first corner puncture (UK users only)

Dejected Lewis Hamilton said that finishing 18th at the German Grand Prix was largely inevitable after his McLaren suffered an early puncture.

Starting fifth on the grid, the world champion had hoped for a podium finish.

But a first-lap puncture as he jostled for the lead, along with a damaged rear floor, instantly scuppered that chance.

"There was nothing I could do," he told BBC Sport. "I was out there just driving on ice. I was pushing and pushing, [but] it was a waste of time."

Hamilton, who became the youngest ever Formula 1 champion when he dramatically captured the drivers' title one point ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa last year, has endured a difficult 2009 season.

I was down by 70 pr 80 seconds and suggested we save the gearbox. But we just used it all

Lewis Hamilton

After topping two practice sessions in Germany, the 24-year-old qualified for fifth place on the Nurburgring grid expressing greater confidence than at any other point this year in his modified McLaren.

Yet, after a small collision with eventual race winner - Red Bull's Mark Webber - appeared to cause the critical damage, the Englishman said he was unable to truly test out the updated car's potential, and was lapped on his was to being the race's last finisher.

"I had an OK start, then I had quite a good launch down to Turn One and then I was braking.

"All of sudden I felt a tap from the rear and I went straight on. I had a flat tyre and damaged the rear floor.

"I was down by 70 or 80 seconds and suggested we save the gearbox for, hopefully, a better race in the future. But we just used it all."

Lewis Hamilton

Highlights - Hamilton suffers puncture after start (UK users only)

Hamilton, whose best 2009 finish was fourth in Bahrain, has been at pains to point out how hard his team of engineers and designers have been working all season, and said the same again at Nurburgring despite his misfortune.

"The team have done a fantastic job," he said.

"But literally I had a damaged car after the rear floor was destroyed on the right side and it wasn't working correctly.

"So I wasn't really able to experience the new updates. I look forward to the next one [race]."

The team's managing director, Jonathan Neale, was unable to offer an immediate explanation for Hamilton's lack of speed.

"Lewis was saying on the radio that he thought there was some damage on the rear. We had a good look at it in the pit stop.

"There was some visual damage on the floor, as you'd expect after a tyre comes off the hub, but the aero data from the car said there was nothing dramatically wrong - but that's not to say all the fences were in place," Neale commented.

"There might have been some losses. He definitely felt there was something wrong with the car."

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen finished just inside the points in Germany in eighth place.

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see also
German Grand Prix race results
07 Jul 09 |  Results
Webber battles to maiden F1 win
12 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix as it happened
12 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Webber charges to first F1 pole
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Highlights - Webber claims German pole
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German GP qualifying as it happened
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix qualifying photos
11 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren still fighting - Hamilton
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton heads Vettel in practice
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Zoom in and fly around the Nurburgring
08 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
F1 breakaway plans still in place
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
14 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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