Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he didn't think McLaren would be in a position to have taken victory so early in the season after he stormed to success in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Woking-based outfit endured a torrid pre-season as it struggled to find either pace or reliability with the new MP4-26, with Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button managing only limited running in the three pre-season tests carried out with the car prior to the opening round of the year in Australia.

With that in mind, expectations were played down before racing got underway with McLaren aware that it had work to do to catch up with its rivals but two podium finishes in the first three races mean Hamilton now lies second in the standings to defending champion Sebastian Vettel.

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However, Hamilton admits that he hadn't expected to win so early in the year.

"If you really knew how bad the car was behaving in the winter and how it wouldn't go past...you'd get to 10 laps if you were lucky and to get past that wouldn't happen," he told Reuters in reference to the fact that the car managed only short runs during pre-season. "Whilst we were being quite cool about it, it was worrying for sure."

The Briton also added that it was too early in the season whether or not the McLaren is a championship-winning car, with work still to do to haul in Red Bull.

"We are definitely the second quickest team and behind Red Bull," he said. "We are the only ones really applying pressure but you can see Mercedes are catching up and Ferrari are still quite competitive. We have really got to just keep moving forwards and we can't let the ball really drop.

"I think the next step is making a step on our downforce package because the Red Bulls definitely have quite a bit more downforce than us. They've got over half a second's worth of downforce on their car than we do which I think we can catch. Then we will really have a winning car."