Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was relieved to finish the Japanese Grand Prix after nursing an ailing McLaren home to fifth place in Suzuka.
The Briton suffered a nightmare weekend, from his accident in free practice to the five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on Saturday, but he feared he would not finish the race when he lost third gear on the replacement box during the grand prix.
"You have to try and remain optimistic, but I didn't think it was going to make it if I'm honest," he told TV reporters. "It was making a lot of noise, so I just kept my fingers crossed and tried not to do too many shifts, and look after it. I had a good gap to those behind me so I had a bit of time I could waste.
"I am just so disappointed for myself and the team," he added. "We are doing everything we can to score points and... There was the big mistake on my part on Friday. The gearbox change. Then the [new] gearbox kind of broke, I couldn't use third gear so I could only use fourth to seventh. So I lost ground to Jenson [Button], but I am just so thankful that I finished the race, it was the first time for a long time."
Hamilton also said that he would continue to hold on to his slim title hopes, but admitted that realistically the championship was now a tall order.
"Still three races to go, still 75 points available, but these guys continue to pick up points consistently, I don't know when they last had a DNF so it would be very, very difficult but we will keep pushing," he said.