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Hamilton: We’ll challenge Red Bull even more in Malaysia 27 Mar 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates his second position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates his second position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with father Anthony Hamilton (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011 The podium (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, second; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 27 March 2011

After the trials and tribulations of McLaren’s rocky winter, driver Lewis Hamilton is delighted to have scored second place - and 18 points - at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. And while Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have ultimately dominated on Sunday, Hamilton is certain the British team will be in an even better position to usurp their rivals at the forthcoming Malaysian race…

Q: Lewis, it was a pretty good race in difficult circumstances. It looked like there was some damage limitation involved as well with your car…
Lewis Hamilton:
Yes, and I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was definitely not as bad it probably looked. I am so happy that I brought the car home with a really great result. The guys back home in the factory can really take a big chunk off those 18 points I’ve achieved today. The car felt great, it was really nice to drive and I was able to look after my tyres throughout the whole race. Being able to race with Vettel after only one and a half weeks with this upgrade makes me very proud and I am looking forward to seeing what they can bring in the next couple of weeks. I am sure they’ll keep on pushing and I hope at the next race we will be out there to challenge the Red Bulls even more.

Q: It’s almost like the MP4-26 is a different car to the one you tested with over the winter…
LH:
Yes, almost. There is always immense pressure to bring new parts, components and upgrades and this one was a seriously tall order from the boss. As professionals they handled it with great care and came here with a package that looked great on the car - and it worked so perfectly. I am so pleased and thankful for all the effort that the guys have put in and I almost can’t wait to see what more they can bring for me. This was one of the easiest races I’ve ever done physically - I came here fitter than I’ve ever been - but also the car was great to drive. So I am looking forward to the next race in Sepang, which is probably the toughest race of the year. With more to come we can even challenge for a win there.

Q: Are you hopeful the car will work just as well in Sepang?
LH:
Yes, as I think the car will work on every circuit we go to from now on. I know that the only way is up with this package. I know the guys in the team know where there is more to come and we will soak it up like a sponge. Without the not so great start, we would have been fighting for the win here so going into the next race, knowing that we can compete like that makes me very excited.

Q: There have been discussions all winter long about the tyres. But in the race itself, it didn’t feel like it was much different to last year. Was it all hype?
LH:
The tyres were fantastic. We all came here believing that we would do up to three stops and we did two. But we’ve also seen today that it is even possible to run on a one-stop strategy. I think that the cars in front - the ones that take a little bit out with the pace - were running well on two stops.

Q: So you are satisfied?
LH:
Yes, even though at times I had a pretty lonely race. I didn’t have a perfect start and lost ground to Sebastian, but I was able to keep the position and then I was just keeping the gap to Sebastian and that was quite easy. Towards the end I was catching up a bit but probably the biggest time loss was when I came out of my pit stop. It cost quite some time as the timing was obviously not so perfect and there was a gap of around eight seconds to catch up. Towards the end I had to carefully bring the car home with the broken bit on the floor and I hope we will not get penalties for that. That would be a dreadful. But that’s racing - anything goes, I guess.

Q: It was the first race for the moveable rear wing. How did it work?
LH:
I only used it once. I didn’t really notice it at all. From that one use I cannot say much but obviously it is easy to use. I used it towards the end of the race when I tried to overtake a backmarker.

Q: From what you’ve seen today of the Red Bull, would you say that they are beatable?
LH:
Yes, I think they are. They definitely have a gap at the moment but I am sure that we are able to close that gap and a positive aspect for us is that they have troubles with KERS it seems. And we have no trouble with KERS. So once we close down the downforce deficit then we will have the advantage of the KERS, so my guess is that they are more under pressure than we are.

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