SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton cast around for a silver lining after a “horrifying” Chinese Grand Prix weekend and found some solace in the numbers.
“Not as bad as I thought,” the Briton told reporters after discovering he was ‘only’ 36 points behind Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg with 18 rounds remaining.
Rosberg has now won six races in a row, the last three of 2015 and first three of 2016, and the German is in the form of his life.
“It’s been awkward but these things happen and these things are sent to try us,” Hamilton said after starting from the back of the grid in Shanghai.
“Of course I don’t sit here at all with an amazing feeling but I have the utmost confidence in this team,” added the triple champion, whose five-place grid drop for an unscheduled gearbox change was compounded by power unit problems in qualifying.
Contact with another car at the first corner then damaged his Mercedes and wrecked his chances of what could have been a remarkable drive to the podium. He finished seventh.
“It was a horrifying race, really,” he said.
“But there were some good experiences, obviously the overtaking. At one point when I went around someone on the outside through turn seven and then through the outside of someone at turn eight.
“I love doing that stuff, you know ... so there were some proud moments for sure.”
Hamilton can take heart from the 2014 season, when he trailed Rosberg by 29 points at one stage before coming back to take the title with six wins from the last seven races, and his mindset is different now too.
“Definitely don’t feel the dark cloud that I’ve had in the past over me right now,” Hamilton said. “Of course it’s a trying time and for sure lots of different emotions and thoughts are going through my mind.
“But there’s a long, long way to go, lots can happen. It’s just that I have no more jokers available, really.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin