After his apparently subdued demeanour on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton couldn't have looked more satisfied with his day at the office after a successful, spirited defence of second place against Mark Webber all the way to the chequered flag.

"This was one of my strongest races of the season," he said afterwards. "There was so much pressure from Mark behind and it would have been so easy to make a mistake, lock up or go wide but I'm really satisfied that I didn't do so once.

"I believe that withstanding pressure is the mark of a world champion, and I think I showed that in today's race," he added. "This was a good, strong result for the team. The guys didn't put a foot wrong all weekend, so we should be proud of today's result - but, man, it was hard!"

His efforts did not go unrecognised by the team, with Martin Whitmarsh declaring that "I think Lewis' drive today was utterly inspirational ... a fantastic drive; beautifully assured and perfectly judged.

"He may be downplaying it, because he's a perfectionist and he wanted to win, but to withstand such enormous pressure, for lap after lap, from a faster car, was a drive absolutely worthy of the great champions," he added, refusing the accept that second place was in any way second best in Korea this weekend.

McLaren team principal Whitmarsh also celebrated "another brilliant, measured drive" from Jenson Button, who lost out on the first lap to Felipa Massa and dropped positions to Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, but recovered to see off both Ferraris during the pit stops and finish fourth close behind Webber.

"I don't think I could have done much more than fourth today," said Button. "I struggled to get rid of my understeer throughout the whole race, so fourth was a fair reflection of what the car was capable of today."

Whitmarsh admitted that both cars ended up struggling with technical issues as the race wore on, which made the drivers' efforts all the more noteworthy.

"The data showed that [Lewis] was losing a significant amount of downforce from his front wing," he explained, which the team later found was due to a build up of congealed rubber marbles clogging up a vital slot. "As a result, he was suffering with masses of understeer, which further hurts the tyres. In the circumstances, his was an absolutely fantastic drive because it would have been all too easy to have gone backwards.

"By the end, all the switches in the cockpit that could help me were adjusted to the maximum!" revealed Hamilton. "I was driving into corners with almost maximum lock and the car still wasn't turning - so I couldn't carry the speed through the corners, and that's how Mark was able to catch me."

"On Jenson's car, too, we discovered after the race that he was also hurting from damage to his car, caused by a rock hitting the front-wing, [which] meant he was unable to mount a sustained attack in the DRS zone and secure third," said Whitmarsh.

But he wasn't allowing any of this to get in the way of celebrating the achievements of the team as a whole in Korea.

"Today showed that we have a very good racing car," said Whitmarsh. "But, more importantly, it showed that we have two brilliant racing drivers, who will fight from the start of the race to the end and who will never give up."


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