Red Bull driver sets the pace in the practice sessions ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.
|Hamilton and the McLaren team celebrate a victory that only a few weeks ago looked unlikely [GALLO/GETTY]
Victor of the Chinese Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton has expressed his delight at winning his first race of the season.
Hamilton’s win in Shanghai denied Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel a fifth win in a row for Red Bull and opened McLaren’s account for the season with their first victory since last August.
The 2008 world champion, now second in the standings after the first three races, had said after troubled pre-season tests that he did not have a winning car, but he has that now – and far sooner than he could have dreamt of only a month or two ago.
Chasing the bull
However, Hamilton admitted his McLaren team still have plenty of work to do to stay in the running for the drivers and constructors’ world championships.
“We are definitely the second quickest team and behind (Red Bull)”.
Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren race engineers and mechanics will be pleased to know he was thinking of them on his way to victory in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
They might be less delighted to be told he was pondering how to raise their blood pressure on a regular basis after they won a race against time to fix his car and get him on the starting grid with only seconds to spare.
“I was thinking in the race maybe I need to do some drills, like sprinting drills, with my engineers to get their hearts racing more for the beginning of the race (in future),” said 26-year old Hamilton.
“Because their hearts were massively racing when they were trying to work on my car and the pitstops were the best they have ever been.”
Even if there is still some way to go, Hamilton could only marvel at just how far the team has already travelled.
McLaren went into the Australian season-opener with a revamped car that had not done a race distance in a single day and whose earlier version was so unreliable that the drivers had struggled to string even a sequence of 20 laps together in testing.
Asked whether, in his wildest dreams, he would have imagined in early March that he could be a winner by April, Hamilton shook his head.
“No. If you really knew how bad the car was behaving in the winter and how it wouldn’t go past…you’d get to 10 laps if you were lucky and to get past that wouldn’t happen.”
While Hamilton has been soaking up his success in China, fellow McLaren teammate Jenson Button has been enduring public ridicule after he accidentally drove his car into the Red Bull pit stop before finishing in fourth.