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Lewis 'not to blame' for start

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 05-09-2016 skysports.com

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Lewis Hamilton has been told by his Mercedes team he wasn't to blame for the poor start from pole position which cost him victory of the Italian GP. 

Hamilton fell as low as sixth off the line and, on a one-stop strategy, had to exhaust precious tyre life fighting through to second behind eventual race winner Nico Rosberg. 

By that stage, Rosberg had already built up an impregnable 15-second lead and although Hamilton briefly reduced the deficit to less than 10 seconds, it quickly became apparent that he had left himself too much to do. 

"I think l got it down to nine or 10 seconds but unfortunately that is too big a gap to close on the tyres we have," lamented Hamilton, who now leads the world championship by a mere two points.

"It soon became not a race with Nico [but] a race to make sure I stayed ahead of the guys behind and didn't lose any more points.

"I could have kept on going at the pace l was going and l could have brought the gap down to six [seconds] - maybe. But it still wasn't enough to win the race. To close a 15-second gap, you would need to go every lap three or four tenths quicker and when you do that you are not going to have any tyres left.

"And if I had ever closed up the gap, l would haven't had any tyres left to get past. Fifteen seconds is a long way back with today's tyres."

Compounding Hamilton's frustration, the world champion had been in superlative form all weekend, out-qualifying Rosberg by half a second at a circuit where 70 per cent of a lap is spent at full throttle. 

"We had been dominant all weekend and it was less than a tenth which lost us the weekend - that's tough for everyone," said Hamilton. "But we're still leading the world championship."

Poor getaways have become a frequent feature for Mercedes this year and the data from Hamilton's W07 car will be pored over by the Englishman and his team of engineers when they reconvene at the world champion's Brackley headquarters on Tuesday.

"I'm told it wasn't driver error but it wasn't anyone's error," said Hamilton. "We continue to have an inconsistency with our clutch. You saw it with Nico in Hockenheim and it's happened to me quite a lot this year. Every now and again we get a drastic variation. It's something we need to work on and it's the only thing we will be talking about Tuesday. We're not struggling with pole position, just getting off the line."

Having entered the summer break boasting a 19-point lead, Hamilton now finds himself in a dogfight against Rosberg to secure a third successive title. 

"An F1 race is never straightforward. The start was a big battle and l won that, which was cool," said Rosberg. "It wasn't easy - but not the toughest race." 

The title pendulum has swung dramatically all season between the two Mercedes drivers. At one stage Rosberg led by 43 points and now, after two victories in a week, has all-but drawn level with his team-mate with just seven races to go.

"I'm not thinking about that and that's my best approach," Rosberg shot back when asked how he rated his chances. "My belief for winning individual races is as high as ever and if l thought about 43 points going to 19 l would lose sleep. I'm just enjoying winning races."

Rosberg's self-belief and confidence, which took a heavy hit during July, is also rising. He may not possess Hamilton's single-lap speed but the data from his long-run simulations in Friday practice meant he was able to stay unfazed by the thrashing Hamilton meted out in qualifying. 

"I felt good on qualifying pace, it's just that Lewis had his best day of the year and when he has his best day of the year it is difficult to beat him," he explained.

"When we were practicing for the race on Friday l was looking really strong and felt very good. I knew I could push Lewis in the race either way - if he was in front of me or behind me. I knew l had a chance to win and l confirmed that today."

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