Hamilton heroic as title hopes disappear

By Alan Baldwin, Reuters

Posted at Oct 15 2012 11:30 AM | Updated as of Oct 15 2012 07:30 PM

YEONGAM, South Korea - Lewis Hamilton brought down the shutters on his Formula One title hopes at the Korean Grand Prix on Sunday even as his McLaren team praised him to the skies for his grit and determination.

"I think in terms of winning (the championship), that is it for us," the Briton told reporters after finishing 10th on a bitter afternoon for McLaren, who lost second place in the constructors' standings to Ferrari.

"I don't see us in the fight. It's out of the question for us probably now, it's a shame as we were right there for a moment but this is motor racing," he added.

Hamilton remained fourth overall in the championship but 62 points behind Red Bull's race winner Sebastian Vettel with four races, and 100 points, remaining.

The 2008 champion had started third on the grid but lost a place at the start to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and then suffered a rear roll bar failure that made his car increasingly hard to handle.

To make matters worse, his car then picked up a length of dislodged astroturf that became wedged in a sidepod for the final laps.

"He showed really heroic fighting spirit," said team principal Martin Whitmarsh after Hamilton had held off Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez, his replacement at McLaren next season, in a dash for the line.

"Despite what a terrible day it is, I have to come away incredibly proud of him and what he did in the circumstances," added the Briton.

"I think he showed fantastic spirit and grit to get to the end and get the most hard-fought world championship point I can remember in the history of this team. For one point you don't get much more heroic a drive."

Hamilton is leaving McLaren, the team he has been part of since he was 13 years old, for Mercedes at the end of the season but his performance on Sunday showed that he intends to fight for whatever he can get right to the end.

"It's a day to forget, this has been a year to forget as well so I am looking forward to a fresh start next year," said the 27-year-old.

"It was really difficult, I struggled like crazy. It's not always great to have races like this but sometimes it is good to see what is in your heart and if you keep fighting it shows there will be a brighter day." (Editing by Clare Fallon)