Hamilton’s Rotten weekend

Lewis Hamilton’s unbroken run of Formula One success finally came to an end when he could finish only ninth in a dramatic European Grand Prix played out in treacherous wet conditions.

The 22-year-old Briton started in 10th place on the grid after his high-speed accident in qualifying, from which he miraculously escaped unscathed, but he suffered a puncture in a tangle on the first corner and was among six drivers to skid off into the same gravel trap when the circuit became flooded after a torrential downpour minutes later.

Hamilton, whose weekend had started badly with the onset of flu, had finished on the podium in his first nine GPs, but his lead in the drivers’ championship has now been cut to two points by his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.

“I came here completely sick, had one of the biggest crashes I ever had, then got a puncture, went into the gravel, it started to rain — it was really a great weekend in terms of learning,” Hamilton said after finishing one place outside the points. “I really feel I’ve made a big step in terms of experience. I learned 10 times as much in the race today but overall I enjoyed it.”

Hamilton was passed fit only on the morning of the race after being carried off on a stretcher following his crash into a tyre wall during qualifying on July 21. “I was just in pain in my chest, very painful,” he said. “I’ve got this big bruise.”

Asked about his record run of podium finishes coming to an end, he said: “I told you from day one that was going to happen eventually. That’s racing. You know, you can’t have a perfect racing day race after race. It doesn’t feel strange — I told you it’s inevitable that some day I’m not going to finish on the podium. So I was ready for it.”

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007