A mistake from the 2008 world champion in the final qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix meant he was unable to make a late push for pole.
And a frustrating race, which saw yet another collision with Ferrariâ€™s Felipe Massa, left him fifth as team-mate Jenson Button stormed to his third win of the season.
â€œI had a pretty good race here last year, finishing second,â€ Hamilton said. â€œIt was a long, tough afternoon, but Iâ€™m glad we got the chance to put on a race for all the fans whoâ€™d come for the first-ever grand prix in Korea.
â€œI think the DRS zone into Turn Three should definitely make for some exciting racing: last year, the back straight didnâ€™t really produce too much overtaking because it was so wet and there was so much spray by the time we reached that downhill braking area, that it wasnâ€™t an easy place to pull off a pass.
â€œThe weatherâ€™s supposed to be good next weekend, so I think weâ€™ll really begin to see how this circuit works in the dry.
â€œYou can tell that this track has been designed to be a good place for racing â€“ Turns Four, Five and Six are a bit like the end of the lap at Istanbul Park, where you can attack on the inside and the outside and try and fight your way past.
â€œSo, yeah, second was a good place to start last year, but I want to go one better in 2011.â€
Buttonâ€™s win in Japan, his second home, was one of his best drives for the Woking-based team, and while Sebastian Vettel may have wrapped up the driversâ€™ championship for the second successive year with third place, Button has extra motivation to keep winning after a disappointing outing in Korea last year.
â€œWinning in Japan was one of the most satisfying and emotional victories of my career,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m really looking forward to carrying that momentum into this weekend, too.
â€œAlthough last yearâ€™s Korean Grand Prix wasnâ€™t one of my greatest performances â€“ we just couldnâ€™t get the car hooked up properly â€“ I think that, given the current pace of the car and the form the team has at the moment, Iâ€™m going into this yearâ€™s race feeling much more positive.
â€œThe most important difference is that I have a car beneath me that I can really trust â€“ for me, that wasnâ€™t really the case here last season: but, this year, our car just feels positive in every type of corner, and I feel comfortable pushing hard, because you can really feel the limit. I think you could really see that at Suzuka.
â€œSo Iâ€™m feeling much more optimistic about this yearâ€™s race.â€
Red Bull lead the constructorsâ€™ championship with 518 points to McLarenâ€™s 388 with four races remaining.
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