MONTREAL (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton lost the lead in the Formula One world championship to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Canada on Sunday but the Briton said he was just happy to finish the race.
The Mercedes driver ended fifth and is now a point behind his German rival, who won the seventh race of the season from pole position.
Montreal has been the happiest of hunting grounds for Hamilton in the past, with six wins including his first with McLaren in 2007, and Sunday was still his 32nd successive race in the points.
But it could also have marked the end of the record run.
“I am super grateful that I finished. I’m just so happy that I finished,” he told Britain’s Sky Sports television.
“From the start all of a sudden I was down on power and my engine was saying it was over temperature and I couldn’t get the temperatures down. I just thought it was going to fail.
“Every single lap I was kind of on the edge just waiting for that power to drop away and disappear, because it kept dropping and coming back.”
Mercedes had planned to bring an engine upgrade to Montreal, in line with their rivals, but decided against at the last moment due to a quality issue.
That meant Hamilton was using his engine for a seventh race, the allotted lifespan in a season with 21 rounds and a limit of three engines per driver.
“It kept going and it’s the seventh race on the engine so it saw it’s life. I could have lost a lot more points today,” said the four-times world champion, who is no fan of the engine limitations.
Mercedes said they had detected a fault making the car run hot in the opening stint and added cooling at an early pitstop to help the situation.
“Lewis had a temperature issue on his engine which he had to worry about and watch, and therefore could not go full speed,” said the team’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
“The real question is reliability and power. We play on the safe side, therefore we did not use it (the upgraded engine) here. And let’s wait and see how long the others last.
“But at the moment they are doing as well as we are.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond