Manama, April 22, 2012 (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton warned his McLaren team on Sunday that they need to investigate and fix their pit-stop problems before they wreck their bid for the world championship.
The 27-year-old Briton came home eighth in the Bahrain Grand Prix despite two sluggish pit-stops when his pit crew had problems with the left wheel rear-nut just a week after a bad pit stop in China cost team-mate Jenson Button his chance of winning.
Hamilton said the team's pit-stops were a serious concern and threatened their bid for success.
"We need to look into this very seriously. There has to be an investigation because we gave away a lot of points again today (Sunday) - that's how championships are lost.
"So we have to try and make sure we pick up in the next race because we can't afford to lose points like we did today."
Seasoned observers estimated that the two bungled pit stops cost Hamilton around 18 seconds in Sunday's race - enough time for him to have finished much higher up the field and to have kept his lead in this year's world title race.
The victorious defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull came home triumphant for the first time in 2012.
Hamilton was able to shrug the disappointment aside, declaring: "It's motor racing.
"I had no idea what went on, but I was hoping the second time I came in that I wouldn't have that problem, or I was hoping that it would be a good pit stop.
"But it was exactly the same, if not a little bit longer than the previous one!
"So a lot of ground was lost today -- but we still picked up some points so I've got to be happy with that.
"There weren't many positives for me -- just the four points - they are the only positive I can take out of today. My pace wasn't great, and I was really struggling to look after my rear tyres throughout the day.
"But I picked up some time at the end of the stint and I looked after my tyres. As I said, I got everything I could out of the car."
Button said he had no idea why the team were so off the pace after starting the weekend as favourites.
The 2009 champion said: "We were really struggling with oversteer and all the way through the race we were taking front-end out of the car, but we just didn't have the pace here and we don't know where it's gone.
"It's very difficult to understand where the pace is and why we didn't have it around here. In the last races, whether we've won or not, we have had good race pace but we just didn't have it here. So a difficult weekend for the team."