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Hamilton concedes title pursuit

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MONZA, Italy (AP)

Lewis Hamilton had to concede Sunday that his bid for a second Formula One title is all but over after a "nightmare" weekend for the Mercedes driver at the Italian Grand Prix.

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Hamilton, who won at Monza last year, finished ninth Sunday after technical problems. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won to extend his lead in the standings to 53 points from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Hamilton trails the German driver by 81.

"It's awful when you are just empty of energy and have given everything for just two places and that's it for the championship now," said Hamilton, who had started 12th on the grid after a poor qualifying session on Saturday.

"It is a nightmare weekend for me. It's a real shame but these kind of things happen. It has been a good year, we're just going to keep pushing."

Hamilton had a slow puncture on his first set of tires that forced him to make an early stop on lap 13 of the race and change to a two-stop strategy. He also had radio problems, which meant he was unaware of the situation at first and had to rely on a pit board for communication.

"I gave it my all out there today; the pace of the car was great but unfortunately we paid the price for not qualifying far enough up the field," Hamilton said. "My radio failed right at the start of the race and it's really tough when that happens as you rely on the advice and information from the team to manage your race. I didn't even know about the slow puncture until after the race so now it makes more sense why we had to make the extra stop."

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