Lewis backs down

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he can see the reasoning behind McLaren’s decision to bring him in for a second pitstop in Australia, despite it ultimately costing him a possible podium finish.

Although team-mate Jenson Button completed the race on the slick tyres he fitted at his early pitstop, Hamilton was called in for a second stop by the team while running in a podium position behind Button and Robert Kubica.

The stop left Hamilton to chase down drivers ahead who had made just a single stop and while he was able to close on to the rear of the battle for second place between Kubica, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, his hopes of a podium finish were ended by late contact with the Red Bull of Mark Webber.

Had Hamilton completed just a single stop, the Briton may well have helped McLaren to a 1-2 finish but he said that he understood the reasoning behind the team’s decision to call him in for a second stop.

“I’m very proud of the job I did in Australia,” he said. “The team has explained to me their reasoning behind the second pitstop, and I can understand what they were trying to do in trying to cover both Mark [Webber] and Nico [Rosberg] for later in the race.

“We are still learning about this year’s tyres and the degradation, and perhaps we over-estimated the wear that the frontrunners were expecting to suffer. It’s something you learn from, and we’ll use that knowledge to help us improve throughout this season.

“But yeah, my race was awesome. I really enjoyed it. I drove one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. I think it was a very clean race – I had some fantastic battles, made some passes and showed good pace. It’s the sort of race I love.”

Despite Button’s first victory for the team – a win he said was thoroughly deserved after a faultless drive – Hamilton added that McLaren still has work to improve the one-lap pace of the MP4-25 which has impressed more during the two races to date than in qualifying.

“In both Bahrain and Australia we’ve felt more comfortable with our race pace than the pace we showed in qualifying,” he said. “While that’s encouraging, it’s become clear that we need to improve our qualifying pace if we’re to have a regular shot at winning races: it’s all very well being quick in the race, but if you can’t make up places from your grid position, then your race is still going to be a struggle.

“We can take home the positives: our car is fast, much faster than it was this time last year, and it seems to be reliable, now we need to work on single-lap pace – and the sooner the better.

“While we feel relatively confident in our reliability, the key over the next couple of races will be to improve our performance to enable both Jenson and I to take home some big points and move closer to the top of the championship tables. I’ll really be pushing for that over the next couple of weeks.”

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