Lewis Hamilton gears up for this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix concerned his championship hopes can't survive another knock like the one he suffered last week at Hockenheim.
The McLaren driver made his first retirement of the year at the German Grand Prix after he ran over debris that caused a puncture and dropped him to the back of the field. He's currently fifth in the Drivers' Championship, trailing leader Fernando Alonso by 62 points.
"[Hockenheim] was as big a dent as you can possibly take," said Hamilton, who also failed to score in Valencia.
"There are only a certain amount of those dents you can take during a year, especially when the guy who's leading has finished every race".
Alonso has scored in every round this year, and has won three races. Hamilton's only win came in Canada in June.
Hamilton's puncture came on Lap 2 of the race last Sunday but he soldiered on and controversially unlapped himself from Sebastian Vettel before retiring ten laps from the end.
The reigning world champion, who was in second-place at the time, was not amused and got quite animated in his car, shaking his fist as the McLaren re-passed because he was in hot pursuit of Fernando Alonso at the time.
"If you look at the rules it is clear you are allowed to do that," said Vettel in Hungary. "I said it was unnecessary. I was hunting Fernando, it was a couple of laps to the pit stop, and it didn't help me".
The move was reminiscent of the time F1 debutant Eddie Irvine unlapped himself from Ayrton Senna at the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix. Senna was even more incensed than Vettel, and tried to thump the Ulsterman in the pits after the race.
Behind Vettel on the track was Hamilton's team-mate, Jenson Button. "It probably helped Jenson, but it is racing," said Vettel.
"I am not complaining. I am saying it was unnecessary from a racing point of view to distract the leaders, no matter who it was."
Hamilton has revealed he sought the advice of his team over the radio, and was offered a choice. "I did speak to the team and asked 'What do you want me to do?' I didn't want to risk getting in the way of Jenson. They said I could either pull over and take that risk or try to unlap myself. So that's what I did.
"It doesn't matter if I'm first or last, I'm a racer and I'll race wherever I am. Even if I know at the back of my mind that I have no chance of scoring a point, I'm paid to push at all times. I know that's what the team expect from me. If I'd given up and just poodled around I'd expect to be fired."
The 27-year-old denies there was any risk of a collision when he made his move on the Red Bull driver. "It's tactical racing," said Hamilton.
"You know Sebastian's a smart driver. It's not like racing against some of the other guys, You know he's not going to do something stupid. I wasn't going to do anything stupid either."
On a fresher, faster set of tyres Hamilton easily had the pace to then pull away from Vettel and catch up with race leader, and eventual winner, Alonso. Unlike Vettel, however, the Spaniard resisted and Hamilton was unable to pass before the Ferrari pitted. Defending from Hamilton, who posed no threat to the race leader, probably cost Alonso time. "He just doesn't like to be overtaken by me," explained Hamilton. "I wouldn't expect anything less from him."