Hamilton thrilled with team's progress
|By Jonathan Noble and Matt Beer||Sunday, March 27th 2011, 08:03 GMT|
Lewis Hamilton hailed his second place in the Australian Grand Prix as a 'great achievement' for McLaren given its poor winter testing form and last-minute redesign.
Following a build-up during which it looked unlikely to even break into the top 10, McLaren shelved its radical exhaust system and brought a new exhaust and floor to Melbourne for the season-opener.
That transformed its performance, and Hamilton was able to qualify and finish second in Australia, while his team-mate Jenson Button started fourth and came home sixth following a penalty.
"I think we can definitely take this and be very proud of ourselves," said Hamilton.
"The guys did a great job coming into this weekend. A week or two ago we were not expecting to be anywhere near top five, to come away with second and the car more reliable, I think it is a great achievement for us guys.
"We were clearly catching Seb [Vettel] earlier in the race. Strategy is one for sure we can work on but we have a good pace and I am looking forward to the next race."
Hamilton achieved his podium finish despite the front part of his McLaren's floor achieving to partially detach during the race.
"The plank and the part of the floor is massively damaged," he said. "I don't know when it happened.
"I was losing quite a lot of downforce with that, so was trying to nurse the car home for points as we need them for later in the year."
He also credited McLaren's KERS for allowing him to keep second place at the start, after Mark Webber's Red Bull got a better getaway from third.
"I got quite a bit of wheelspin, there was nothing I could do to catch Seb but with KERS I could hold second," said Hamilton.