After what was looking set to be a strong weekend for Sir Lewis Hamilton turned into yet further disappointment to add to his 2022 collection, after a pivotal driver error saw the Mercedes driver’s podium hopes go up in smoke.
Despite having concerns about the bumpy street surface of the Marina Bay Circuit ahead of the weekend, the Silver Arrows looked surprisingly strong throughout Free Practice and in qualifying.
Whilst George Russell was eliminated in Q2 following an issue, Hamilton claimed third place for the first race in Singapore since 2019 but was astonishingly less than a tenth behind polesitter Charles Leclerc.
After a strong Friday and Saturday, Sunday proved to be the unfortunate turning point.
The seven-time World Champion suffered from wheelspin during the second phase of his launch from the line and slipped to fourth behind Carlos Sainz as a result.
The Briton was quickly on the back of the Spaniard but spent 33 Laps stuck behind the F1-75.
Whilst trying to force Sainz into making a mistake, the 103-time GP winner ended up making an error himself, after going into Turn Seven way too fast.
Hamilton went directly into the barrier on the exit of the corner and dropped to fifth, but that soon became ninth after being forced to pit for a new front-wing.
By the time he emerged back onto the circuit, the entirety of the field had switched from Intermediate to Slick tyres, barring both McLaren drivers who pitted under a Safety Car moments later.
The 37-year-old found himself stuck behind Sebastian Vettel, who just like Sainz, he simply couldn’t overtake.
Hamilton had inherited eighth after Max Verstappen was forced into an additional pit-stop but fell back behind the Dutchman with just two minutes remaining after another mistake.
The British driver accidentally went onto the wet part of the circuit on the way into Turn Eight, which forced the Mercedes driver wide, allowing Verstappen past.
Ninth was Hamilton’s eventual finishing position, meaning Mercedes scored just two points from the race, with Russell finishing P14.
Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle thinks that the mistake might not have been entirely Hamilton’s fault, after commenting that the W13 looked like a “difficult car” to handle during Free Practice.
“When I was out on track during practice it was clear that despite lapping quickly the two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were working harder at the wheel, not least compared to the relative magic-carpet ride of the Ferrari,” Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“Lewis has had a bit of bother in combat in more recent races which is likely indicative of a difficult car. They’ll be pleased to see the back of this one.”
Hamilton did accept full responsibility for his potentially podium costing error, and apologised to the team.”
“I think we started off with a pretty decent weekend, just really, really unfortunate at the end,” said Hamilton.
“I was trying – obviously, it was difficult to overtake, and that lock-up into Turn 7, when those things happen, your heart sinks a little bit.
“It all went all out the fricking window when I locked up. So, my apologies to the team but we live and we learn, and I’ll recover.”