Lewis Hamilton insists that McLaren is 'pushing like crazy' to improve its MP4-24 after a trying start to the 2009 Formula One season.

Hamilton has managed just nine points so far this season and lies seventh in the drivers standings - 32 points behind championship leader Jenson Button. McLaren meanwhile lie 55 points off Brawn GP in the constructors' championship standings after the fifth race of the season in Spain.

That race saw the Mercedes-powered team fail to score for the second time in 2009, with Hamilton finishing in ninth place and Heikki Kovalainen retiring early on with mechanical issues, although Hamilton conceded that the team had always expected a difficult weekend at Catalunya.

"We knew the Spanish Grand Prix was going to be tough for our car given the results of the test a couple of months ago," he wrote on his personal website. "We're hoping that things improve greatly from this point onwards as Barcelona is one of the toughest circuits on the calendar for our car.

"Bahrain was always going to be one of our better races because we could exploit KERS and the car's handling through the slower corners. I think we can finish in the points regularly but we'll continue to struggle at some of the faster circuits. But hopefully we can introduce the necessary performance upgrades to make us competitive everywhere."

The next event on the calendar will be the scene of one of Hamilton's finest drives last season, when he bounced back from hitting the barriers early on to secure victory on the streets of Monaco.

Hamilton admitted that the team is working hard to improve a car that it can 'turn the corner with', and he insisted that he would keep pushing to the maximum in an attempt to try and defend his crown.

"I hope our new modifications give us a huge chunk of downforce," he said. "I know the guys will keep pushing, I'm pushing like crazy, we're all pushing like crazy: when we start winning again, we'll deserve it more than anything because we'll have been through so much to get back there. There is a great feeling of solidarity and optimism in the team at the moment, we'll never give up.

"The car is just not where it needs to be for me to defend the title. But that won't stop us all from fighting hard and pushing to the absolute maximum at every race - because that's got to be our motivation now."

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