For the third time in five races, the number five Ferrari ended up facing the wrong way early in a grand prix after contact with a rival. "We've called a bit back on the power unit but still there is a deficit so we're not in a happy place", said team boss Toto Wolff.
"Realistically, we know it's our last shot at winning a race this year".
Last year, Hamilton clinched the title in Mexico with a ninth-place finish.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen's lap time in Austria (1min06.957) is still fastest by far this season, the only driver who came close is Red Bull's Max Verstappen with 1min13.864 set in Canada. Each is special in its own way. And every one after that has got harder and harder, even though you are improving.
Last Sunday Hamilton said he "honestly didn't care" about the title at Austin and had not "thought a single thought about winning the championship".
Verstappen, and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who finished second in both sessions, have between them failed to finish 11 races this year.
"They took the vehicle apart in the morning, and when they put it back together, the auto was unbalanced", said Hamilton. "So the right front and left rear take all the weight and the auto would not turn through the left-hand corners".
"It felt very odd out there".
"Through the right-handers it was a little better, but there are not a lot of right-handers at that track". "We know that the vehicle wasn't in 100% condition in terms of mechanical set-up for the race, and we also got caught by the tyre life predictions we had".
Another race, another Sebastian Vettel error.
Red Bull, however, will not be easy to beat. Probably he over performed with the auto he had at the beginning of the season. I would be sitting here now with one championship. If you want to point [a] finger at someone, there is millions of things that you can [say].
"The closer you are to the other auto I think you lose some downforce and the spins that I had were all quite weird because there was not much I could have done", Vettel told reporters at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. So I guess there must be some sort of hole or something being on the inside of another auto in that position. "I don't think in qualifying we have a chance but in the race we anyway seem to be working a lot better".
"The cars are very complex".
"It [the criticism] is fair", he said. If you are the one spinning, then obviously something didn't go right.
"I don't believe in doing insane things". I wasn't hard-headed trying to do something that would never work. "I think if it's happened a few times, then maybe, even if you don't think you are, you could be - I don't want to put any words into Seb's mouth - already slightly hesitant before making the move. So next time there will be a gap, I am sure I will go for a gap, but surely it is in the back of your head trying to keep the auto facing the right direction".
"We can't forget that he's more under the magnifying class than most others. As long as you get it done".
"We had races where we were very competitive but also races where we were not".
Lewis Hamilton has a second chance to secure the Formula One season championship. He reset Nigel Mansell's record for most pole positions in a season (15), equalled Michael Schumacher's total of 13 race wins.
Times BST until Sunday, 28 October when GMT begins.
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