Former world champion Lewis Hamilton has urged McLaren-Mercedes that important early-season points cannot keep being thrown away in F1 2010 through silly errors like that made during qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang at the weekend – claiming that when all goes well, the team has the potential to be 'dynamite'.
Like traditional rivals Ferrari, McLaren played a risky game by gambling with the elements during the initial phase of qualifying in Kuala Lumpur – and when the weather subsequently deteriorated rather than improved, they were badly caught out, with Hamilton unable to escape Q1 as the track got slower and slower and team-mate Jenson Button only narrowly scraping through. The all-British pairing would begin the grand prix from respectively 17th (Button) and 20th.
Hamilton bravely and aggressively fought his way up through the order by dint of some superb overtaking moves on race day, and sixth place was his ultimate reward – but, in much the same way as an unnecessary extra pit-stop had scuppered his podium hopes Down Under in Melbourne only a week earlier, the 25-year-old contended that it could have been rather more had McLaren only proven to be tactically and strategically sharper.
With a car that he argues is getting closer to early pace-setters Red Bull Racing and Ferrari all the time and driving by his own admission better than he has ever done, now is the moment to strike, asserts the Stevenage-born ace – or else the chance to fight for the title may disappear.
“I think in the two last races I have pulled out something good,” Hamilton told the Daily Mail
. “They are probably the two strongest races I have had for a long, long time. I could not ask for anything more [than] getting sixth from 20th on the grid [in Malaysia], but we can't afford to have races like that.
“I don't how many of those kinds of races I can do – it's not easy at all. It would be a lot easier if I had started nearer the front – I would have had less to do. Unfortunately, we drivers are being left with a lot to do. We've been doing a great job, yet it could be easier.
“If we get it right, it could be dynamite. This weekend I think if it had been dry in qualifying, we could have made the first two rows of the grid. We just have to push the guys, as this weekend has shown us we have the pace to fight for wins and the championship. In the last two races we have lost a lot of points. I believe we will get it right – but it takes hard work.”
“You win together, lose together,” added the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “I think Lewis understands that. He could not have done a better race job.”