Hamilton: We can compete
Lewis Hamilton is convinced Mercedes will be able to bridge the gap to the front-runners after surprising himself in the Australian Grand Prix.
Over one lap in qualifying Hamilton was the best of the rest behind the Red Bulls, who locked out the front row on Sunday after adverse weather conditions on Saturday forced a postponement.
Come the race at Melbourne's Albert Park, Hamilton may have dropped two places from third on the grid to fifth by the end of the 58-lap curtain-raiser, but the overwhelming feeling was one of delight.
"I always like to go forwards rather than backwards, but overall it is a really good step for the team," said Hamilton.
"It was great. I'm really happy, way better than we ever expected for the first grand prix, so it's a good place to start.
"We've a good platform to work from. The car felt good and I enjoyed every moment.
"The only thing is we're going to have to figure out where we lost time to other people.
"I don't know how they managed to pull away from us so quickly at the start, but we'll keep pushing and we'll get there eventually."
Hamilton finished 45 seconds adrift of race winner Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso second and reigning three -times world champion Sebastian Vettel third.
Asked whether the gap was bridgeable to the trio, Hamilton replied: "Yes, it definitely is.
"We've a good chance to close up because we've some good things in the pipeline. I really feel we can compete with those guys."
Hamilton, though, is refusing to go out on a limb by suggesting he has a winning car, adding: "Only time will tell.
"If we look back maybe some of the guys will feel a bit frustrated we didn't finish where we started from, or even further forward.
"But that's a good feeling to have because we came here not knowing what would happen."
Looking ahead to next Sunday's second race of the season in Malaysia, Hamilton said: "It's going to be tough, but hopefully we can have a better race there and get a better result."
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