• Bahrain Grand Prix

Hamilton surprised by sudden car improvement

ESPN Staff
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Lewis Hamilton took fifth place on the final lap from Mark Webber © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton said it was surprising that his car improved markedly during the Bahrain Grand Prix as he recovered to fifth place.

Having qualified in ninth, Hamilton was slow in the first stint and running back in 11th place in his Mercedes while team-mate Nico Rosberg also struggled. However, Hamilton's pace improved later in the race and he said he really enjoyed being able to climb back through the field after his final pit stop.

"I had so much fun there," Hamilton said. "I was struggling like crazy at the beginning, I was nowhere; I was falling back and I just couldn't hold on to anyone. All of a sudden, I don't know which stint it was - second or third stint - all of a sudden the car picked up. In practice the car was good but then in qualifying the car wasn't very good. It was almost like something reset and all of a sudden the car was back to normal and I was able to chase and hint down everyone."

Having enjoyed a long battle with Mark Webber before finally taking fifth at the start of the final lap, Hamilton said he was "determined" that he would get the position.

"It was good wheel-to-wheel racing; he was really fair and hopefully I was fair as well. But I was so determined to get by; I needed that point."

Reflecting on his start to the season with Mercedes, Hamilton believes it can bridge the gap to front runners Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari.

"I feel like we're holding on by the skin of our teeth. I'm very proud of what the team have done getting the car turned around just to where we are already. So I feel very fortunate to be where we are points-wise and finishing-wise, but we've got to keep pushing. The guys at the factory have got to keep pushing because we're not that far off and if we can just make that next step we can close that gap."