|© AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton described his retirement from the Singapore Grand Prix with a gearbox failure as "heartbreaking," but insists his fight for the drivers' championship is not over yet.
Hamilton started on pole Sunday and led until lap 22, when his car -- which had been leaking gearbox fluid for three to four laps beforehand -- finally ground to a halt, having repeatedly dropped into neutral.
"It's heartbreaking not to have finished the race today," Hamilton said. "We definitely had the pace to win this weekend. In fact, before I retired, I was cruising."
With six races to go, Hamilton trails championship leader Fernando Alonso by 52 points, and dropped from second to fourth in the standings.
"It's going to be hard to close the gap to guys like Fernando (Alonso) and Sebastian (Vettel), especially when they keep finishing race after race, but I'll never give up," Hamilton said.
The Briton has been at the centre of speculation this month amid reports that he had agreed to leave McLaren and join Mercedes, though both driver and team insist contract negotiations were ongoing.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has said the rumours had only made Hamilton more focused on his driving, and said Sunday's setback would only spur him on more.
"Clearly, for him not to have been able to score the 25 world championship points that his pace looked like netting him was a great disappointment for all of us," Whitmarsh said. "But, as TV viewers the world over will have seen from his post-race interviews, Lewis is a fighter and he won't give up.