Chronic understeer that mysteriously cured itself mid-race put paid to any hopes Lewis Hamilton had of fighting for a top spot in the Japanese Grand Prix.
With the championship leader Fernando Alonso driver spinning on the first corner of the race at Suzuka, it was a chance for his rivals to close the gap in the points, but while race-winner Sebastian Vettel did just that, Hamilton could manage no better than a distant fifth place.
"It wasn't so bad," he said. "I pushed as hard as I could through the whole race and it just wasn't the weekend for me, but I still got some points.
"Very, very unusual thing happened which I have never ever experienced before. The car was understeering like it was in qualifying, which it shouldn't have been doing, and then again it was understeering on my formation lap. So I thought it's going to be tough today.
"I struggled for the first 20 off laps, I don't know if it was before the first stop or after, and through Turn 14 I felt this thud on the rear and all of a sudden the car starting turning fantastically.
"So I was able to push and overtake guys, but it was bit late."
That allowed Hamilton to engage in a close quarters battle for fifth with Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 1 as he exited the pits from his early final stop.
"We had a bit of a battle," he said. "We have got lots of history me and Kimi so I felt he was good through the first corner. You know he is very, very fair.
"A fantastic driver so I am glad I had a fight with him.
"The tyres weren't going off I was still fine," he added. "That lap that I came in the last time, when I was racing with Kimi, I said to the team 'my tyres are fine, I want to continue,' but they wanted to bring me in.
"It was obviously the right call though, we had a good battle with Kimi in the first corner. The guys did a fantastic job in the pitstops, just a little bit strange car behaviour this weekend."
- Lewis Hamilton
- Kimi Raikkonen