F1 2013: Mercedes car not fast enough for Hamilton
PUBLISHED: 19:29 14 April 2013 | UPDATED: 19:33 14 April 2013
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has admitted Mercedes are not fast enough yet, despite claiming a battling third place in the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old former F1 world champion from Hertfordshire achieved his second successive podium for his new team.
However, the Mercedes AMG Petronas star felt he didn’t have the race pace of grand prix winner Fernando Alonso and Shanghai runner-up Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite starting from pole position in China, Hamilton lost the lead to Ferrari driver Alonso on lap five and then had to hold off a late charge from Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel to finish third behind Raikkonen’s Lotus.
Hamilton said: “It was a good race for me today [Sunday] and whilst I would have loved the win, I’m really happy with third place and being on the podium for the second race in a row.
2013 Chinese Grand Prix result
Provisional top 10 in China:
1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
3 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5 Jenson Button (McLaren)
6 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
7 Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
8 Paul di Resta (Force India)
9 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
10 Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber)
“Fernando [Alonso] and Kimi [Raikkonen] were just a little bit too fast for us during the race and my tyres were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian [Vettel].
“I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place.”
Thanking his team, Stevenage-born Hamilton added: “The guys did a great job this weekend to get us where we were; on pole and finishing third.
“We got the absolute most out of the car we had and that’s very satisfying. We’re not quite there yet in terms of overall pace but everyone is working so hard and I know we can do it.”
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn admitted: “With Lewis, we did the best we could with the car we had today and he drove extremely well.
“We needed to keep the stints as evenly balanced as possible to make sure we had adequate tyre life, however, even with that, it became very close with Sebastian at the end.”
The F1 season resumes in Bahrain next Sunday.
Brawn added: “Overall we can be confident that we’ve made another step forward this weekend, and the fact that we’re all a little disappointed with third is a measure of the ambition and expectations of the team.”
FIA F1 World Drivers’ Championship
Provisional drivers’ standings after Chinese Grand Prix:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 52pts
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 49
3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 43
4 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 40
5 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 30
6 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 26
Mercedes director Toto Wolff congratulated Hamilton on another podium, following his third place in last month’s Malaysian GP.
He said: “Well done to Lewis for the second podium finish in the last two races. He drove a very good race, just fending off Sebastian who had reeled him in on his option tyres over the last five laps.
“Starting from pole obviously raises expectations, however we knew that tyre management would be very critical for us today.
“During practice and qualifying, the track conditions suited us better than in the race today and, as a result, the balance of the car changed and wasn’t as good for both drivers.”
Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, had to retire from the race on lap 21 with a broken anti-roll bar.
Wolff added: “We will work hard to make sure that technical problems like the ones Nico experienced do not happen again so that both drivers can score points in the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend.”
Jenson Button, Hamilton’s teammate at McLaren last season, finished fifth at the Shanghai International Circuit after starting from eighth on the grid.
Looking ahead, McLaren driver Button said: “We know we still have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front, but we can take a lot of positives away from this weekend.”
The 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix takes place on Sunday, April 21.
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