Hamilton: 'I will come back stronger, do a better job and win'

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton refused to be downbeat after missing out on the world championship by a single point to Kimi Raikkonen. "It's been a crazy year, but I can't really say that I'm gutted or that I feel I was robbed," said the 22-year-old. "It was just unfortunate. We've all of us had some bad luck this year; it's just a shame that mine seemed to come all at the end."

Hamilton started on the front row but had dropped to eighth at the end of the first lap after running wide as Fernando Alonso forced his way through. The Briton then slowed dramatically eight laps later and plunged to 18th place, leaving him fighting a desperate rearguard battle to claw his way into the points.

"For sure, we all wanted to win, we wanted to win the World Cup, we wanted to win the world championship, it's obviously not England's turn this year," added Hamilton, referring to South Africa's victory in the Rugby World Cup.

"All along I said to myself that, whatever happens today, who would ever have thought that I would lead the world championship? It's been a great feeling, having the possibility to win it. The team have done a fantastic job for me all season, and of course I wanted to win. But I guess it wasn't our turn after all this year. But I will come back next year stronger, for sure.

"The start wasn't that great and I got boxed in behind Kimi, then Fernando came past me and I locked up a bit behind him and lost some ground. But I knew that we had the pace to get that back. But then when I was downshifting for Turn Four the gearbox just went into neutral. And I coasted for an awful long time. I still don't know how but I managed to coax it back into operation and get going again, but I had to be careful to manage the engine because the revs were very low.

"When that was happening, coming so soon after China, I just found myself thinking that for sure somebody didn't want me to win the championship. Even after that, though, I refused to believe that it was over. The first time I thought that was when I saw the chequered flag. I never stopped thinking it was still possible.

"After my mistake in China it was tough to have this luck here, but that's racing. I've gone from GP2 to being ranked second in the world and I have every confidence that in 2008 I will come back even stronger, do an even better job and win. I'll be better prepared and I have the experience of the whole thing.

"At the end of the day I'm second in the world championship, and I beat my team-mate who is a double world champion. That's a great result. I said I would be a winner, whatever happened today. I think that, apart from the start, I drove one of my best ever races."

Raikkonen's sixth victory secured him his first world title and the Finn said: "This is a great feeling. We had some hard times, some reliability problems and lost some points. A lot of people didn't believe in us, but we showed that they were wrong and we were able to come back. It was a great season.

"When I saw Hamilton going off, I knew that maybe we had some chances. I wasn't 100 percent sure, I was really just waiting. It took a long time to hear that we had finally won it."

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis revealed why Hamilton slowed early in the race. "Lewis has enjoyed phenomenal reliability from his car this year," he said. "It was just a default in the gear box which selected neutral for a period of time, but then sorted itself out."

Hamilton's father, Anthony, vowed his son will return next year to battle for the world championship."A year ago if you had said that Lewis would be in contention for the title all the way through to the final race, I would have said you were dreaming," he said. "In the end, we lost by a point, and Lewis will be back. If we don't win it next year, then we will win it the year after that. Lewis Hamilton is here to stay.

"These things are sent to try us, and we will be back in 2008. The team will be stronger and I hope that there will be none of the rubbish that was such a part of 2007. Lewis has behaved with dignity all season, and though he is disappointed, he is happy that he drove a great race."