Hamilton's pole streak ends
Hamilton blames tyres on poor qualifying but vows to fight hard in today's race
He tried to put on a brave front, smiling after he delivered each answer.
But the smiles look pained, and who could blame him?
After looking relaxed despite clocking less-than-impressive times in the practice sessions of the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Friday, Lewis Hamilton (left) is suddenly feeling the heat after yesterday's qualifying session.
The 30-year-old Briton, who has looked imperious all season in his Mercedes and is the heavy favourite for this season's world drivers' title, will start tonight's race in fifth place on the grid, after posting 1:45.300 in last night's qualifying, more than 1.4 seconds off fastest qualifier Sebastian Vettel, who clocked 1:43.885.
Hamilton's teammate and main rival for the world title, Nico Rosberg, fared even worse and finished just behind him in sixth, with his best lap timed at 1:45.415 (see facing page).
Hamilton blamed the "weird" performance of his tyres.
"These tyres for some reason are not working on our cars... It's so weird," he said.
"You heat them up the same as everyone else, do your warm-up laps same as everyone else, then you finish your lap and think you've got an okay grip, and then you see someone else a second up the road.
"So it's very strange."
Last night's shock qualifying results meant his consecutive run of pole starts ends at seven, one short of the all-time record set by his hero, the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna.
It also meant Hamilton's front-row start streak ended at 20.
Despite the tyre problems, Hamilton still harbours hopes of winning today's race and emulate Senna by picking up 41 wins from 161 races.
He wrote in a recent column that he felt he was "picking the baton up" and carrying it forward.
But the odds of that happening are now slim.
After all, since the Singapore GP's inaugural year in 2008, five of the seven races have been won by drivers who were sitting in pole position.
But Hamilton said he was not about to give up the fight, even if he didn't sound entirely convincing.
"That's going to be the goal, to still win the race," he said.
"But it's very hard to overtake here, and the others, particularly the Red Bulls, were incredibly quick through the long runs.
"So it is what it is, we'll fight as hard as we can.
"I doubt we'll find something between now and tomorrow but, if we do, great."
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