Lewis Hamilton is expecting to get a better indication of the pecking order in Malaysia next weekend.
Hamilton made a great start to the F1 2011 season at Melbourne's Albert Park, especially given how much McLaren had struggled over the winter and is confident he can be fast everywhere now with the MP4-26 [see separate story - click here
]. However despite that confidence, he knows it is still much too early to judge the speed of the opposition.
“After the pace we showed in Melbourne, I think we can have another good race in Malaysia. Albert Park is a great track, but a circuit like Sepang is where the differences between the cars will start to become clearer,” Hamilton confirmed.
“Sepang is a circuit I really love. It's big, fast and wide with some really demanding high-speed corners where you can find a lot of time if you're really able to get the car working to its full extent.
“I'm really looking forward to using KERS and the DRS too – the rapid change of direction you experience when the car is really in the groove is phenomenal around here, and I think both systems will make the cars look sensational, especially in qualifying.
“The team have looked into the floor failure we experienced in Melbourne: it seems like the bond between the bib and the chassis was damaged so the damage looked quite bad by the end of the race.
“It was good to see that the car could withstand that sort of punishment, but, even so, I'm looking to give it an easier ride in Malaysia!”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh meanwhile concurs that Australia won't have given a clear picture of who is where.
“As with every season, we're pushing hard to bring developments to the car for every race. We don't think Melbourne showed us the best of our competitors' pace, so that only makes us more motivated to bring as much performance to the table as possible,” he added.
“On paper, it looks positive: we were pleased that our Melbourne upgrade worked as expected, and the car's performance around the high-speed elements of Albert Park suggests it will be able to cope around Sepang.
“Despite this, the reality is that there was a gap to pole position, and we finished second and not first.
“Our target is to close that gap and get Lewis and Jenson [Button] into a position where they can win.”