That changed today in Brazil when he slid down the inside of polesitter Valtteri Bottas lap one turn one, and kept the pace to fend off all attacks for the remaining laps.
"You must not underestimate that in traffic against the Ferraris it was pretty difficult".
Hamilton produced a brilliant move to overtake Sergio Perez, going around the outside of the first corner and withstanding the Mexican's DRS-charged fightback. His disappointment stems from the dismal run since winning in Budapest - a seven-race snap without a victory and with just three podiums. "I'm really happy, especially for all the guys in the team back home in Maranello - they've been working so hard".
Here Natasha Henry rates the teams from those who revelled in the carnival spirit to those who are hoping for better at Abu Dhabi in a fortnight.
Hamilton took time to regain his composure following the high-speed crash - informing his team that he was not injured - before walking away from the wreck.
He eventually wound up fourth at the chequered flag after starting last on the grid.
Preparations for the Brazilian Grand Prix were overshadowed by four separate attacks by gunman targeting Formula One personnel in Sao Paulo, it has emerged.
The other issue is in the cockpit.
That was not quite to be, his final overtake being on Max Verstappen for fourth place.
While Hamilton was seen trying to keep his feelings in check during his interview, his 30-year-old counterpart was far more expressive, according to Darren.
Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, in the yellow works Renaults, suffered in a similar way and could only manage tenth and 11th.
But Hamilton and Mercedes deserve the lion's share of the credit.
They were treated to a world champion's battling display, as he finished just eight-tenths of a second behind third-placed Kimi Raikkonen.
Alonso drove the wheels off his McLaren but couldn't get past Massa.
The safety car was deployed almost immediately after Haas driver Romain Grosjean bumped into the side of Force India's Esteban Ocon. The crowd cheered him loudly on his farewell tour.
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