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Disappointing end to Hamilton's farewell race
By TALES AZZONI
Associated Press
2012-11-26 04:55 AM
Lewis Hamilton's time with McLaren came to a disappointing end Sunday when he was knocked out of the Brazilian Grand Prix while leading the race.

It was his last Formula One start with the team which took him under its wings when he was just a teenage driver. He will be joining Mercedes in 2013.

"It's been a day of mixed emotions," Hamilton said. "I'm sad that I didn't finish the race, but I'm excited about the future. I'll miss my friends but I'm optimistic about what lies ahead for me."

Nico Hulkenberg tried to pass Hamilton but spun into his car with less than 20 laps to go at Interlagos. Hamilton started from pole position and was looking for his first win at the Brazilian GP.

Hamilton said Hulkenberg _ who received a drive-through penalty because of the crash _ apologized after the race.

Hamilton will be replacing retiring Michael Schumacher at Mercedes next season.

"I feel comfortable going into this winter because I feel I did a good job this year," Hamilton said. "I gave 2012 everything I had. I couldn't have done anything more."

Hamilton teammate Jenson Button won the race in Sao Paulo, but McLaren was not able to overcome Ferrari for second place in the constructors' championship. Red Bull had clinched the title a week ago.

"It's a shame we weren't able to seal second position in the constructors' world championship together, but we did our best," Hamilton said.

Hamilton drove for McLaren in 110 races, winning 21 of them and finishing on the podium 49 times. He contended for the F1 title in his debut season with the team in 2007 and won the trophy a year later in a dramatic race at Interlagos.

"It's been a brilliant experience to be a part of McLaren over the past six years," he said.

___

NO CHANGES: Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone says he will not consider changing the date of the United States Grand Prix next year because of concerns of overcrowding in Austin, which will also host a University of Texas football game on the same date.

Ecclestone said that organizers are welcome to reschedule the Nov. 17 college game if they feel having both events on same weekend will cause problems.

"The calendar is done and has been approved," Ecclestone told The Associated Press on Sunday at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. "If they want to change the college game, it has nothing to do with me."

There could be concerns of overcrowding, lack of hotel rooms and increased traffic if the race and the football game happen on the same day.

"I don't mind if they change the date of the college game," he said, adding that he had no idea it was scheduled.

Ecclestone said that "at the moment" there hasn't be progress made with the negotiations for the New Jersey GP, which was initially scheduled for next year but has been postponed until 2014.

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STAYING IN INTERLAGOS: Sao Paulo officials say they have started negotiations with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone to keep the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos beyond 2014.

Officials said Ecclestone has requested a series of changes, including transferring the paddock and pit areas to the back stretch to better accommodate the teams.

"Ecclestone liked the project that we showed him," Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab said. "We will continue our negotiations in January."

New mayor Eduardo Haddad, who will take office next year, said he would like to reach a long-term agreement with Ecclestone to keep the race at Interlagos.

Brazilian media said Ecclestone visited a location for a possible new track in southern Brazil this week, but he has denied he is looking for a new venue for the Brazilian GP.

"It's an old race track, but with renovation it will be fine," he said. "We like Sao Paulo."

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