• Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton 'really happy' after finishing fifth

ESPNF1 Staff
March 17, 2013 « Relaxed Vettel says he's "not worried" | Alonso 'optimistic' after 'fantastic' second »
Lewis Hamilton holds off Kimi Raikkonen ... but it was not to last © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton said his fifth-place finish at the Australian Grand Prix exceeded his pre-season expectations despite qualifying in third place.

Following his switch from McLaren, Hamilton has been keen to play down expectations at Mercedes despite some impressive times set during pre-season testing. Having allowed himself to admit the team was competitive on Friday, early pace saw Hamilton drop away from the leaders and out of contention when he was forced to switch to a three-stop strategy, but he said it was still a much better result than he'd expected.

"I think it's great, I'm really happy," he said. "I think it's way better than we probably ever expected in the first race of the season so it's a good place to start. We didn't expect to have such a competitive car. Some people will be like, 'Oh, it wasn't great' but I think fifth's good.

"The car was feeling really good so I don't really know how the other guys were pulling away so quickly but we will keep pushing and hopefully we'll get there eventually.

"We're going to have to go back and try and figure out why we were losing time to other people but I think the guys have done a fantastic job for us to have the pace that we did. I just don't know where we lost out so we're going to have to go back and look at it."

He said that the team had planned a two-stop strategy but that has to be switched during the race. "I had to come in and change tyres but 27 laps on that tyre [was not possible] so we had to covert to a three-stop strategy. I think we'll have a good race in Malaysia."

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