Lewis Hamilton has warned McLaren-Mercedes rivals that heading towards the European leg of the F1 2010 World Championship campaign, the Woking-based outfit is 'firing on all cylinders' and 'hungry' for far more days like that which saw him follow team-mate Jenson Button home in a commanding one-two in China last weekend.
The first clean sweep for the team since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the result vaulted Button to the head of the drivers' standings, and Hamilton to within just a single point of backing him up in second, with McLaren similarly comfortably atop the constructors' table.
Given that the MP4-25 is still arguably only the third-quickest car in the field – behind Red Bull Racing's Adrian Newey-designed RB6 and the Ferrari F10 – that is quite some achievement and, the 2008 world champion asserts, one that is a tribute to all the hard work and dark days of last year.
“[It's been] extremely satisfying – not just for myself and Jenson, but for the whole team,” Hamilton told his official website. “I know how much we've worked to get a result like this. I remember saying last year that the victories we earned in 2009 would feel even sweeter because we'd had to work so hard for them – and the same is really true of this one-two. It's something that's been building for, well, ever since the start of last year really.
“It feels like the team is really firing on all cylinders – everybody in this team, every single last person, is working better than ever to get us these results, and it's really starting to pay off. The atmosphere within the team is fantastic – we are a strong group now, and we know what it takes to win more races. We are hungry for it. China was good, but we want more of those results because they always make us feel so good!
“It was a great drive [from Button to win in Shanghai], a really good drive. I know I pushed like crazy during the whole race, but I know that he pushed too – and this was a race that we deserved to win, no question. Jenson is a great driver – and we can really learn from each other. That's what I think has really helped us to develop this car into a front-runner. We've got a lot of experience between us but we're both always learning – and I still think this car can get better.
“We have a lot of developments in the pipeline; we've got quite a few changes for Barcelona, and I think we can be right up there. We still really need to focus on our qualifying pace – we made some improvements in China, but there's still a way to go. We'll get there, though. Most of all, I know I can win races in this car – the car still feels so planted, more than any Formula 1 car I've driven, and I'm sure those victories will come.”
Indeed, whilst Button has triumphed twice from the opening four grands prix of the season – courtesy of tactical masterclasses in Australia and China – Hamilton has yet to match his compatriot and title-winning successor in that domain. Instead, the Stevenage-born ace has provided the vast majority of the entertainment thus far this year with an incredible 32 overtaking manoeuvres – the equivalent of eight per race.
“I always race my heart out – always race to the maximum,” he confessed, “so I guess that's what happens. I'm not afraid of overtaking other drivers; I actually love a decent battle out on the track. I'm pleased that I've been able to fight in these past few races – I know that people were a bit worried after Bahrain [about the quality of the racing], but we've had three pretty amazing races since then.