Lewis Hamilton says he is confident of being able to challenge for the F1 title this season after a podium finish in the opening round of the new campaign in Australia.
While the result was somewhat bittersweet for the McLaren driver given he had started on pole position, it gave Hamilton a solid start to the season as he looks to put the disappointment of 2011 behind him and add a second title to his resume.
Jenson Button's victory only served to show the strength of the new MP4-27 and Hamilton insisted he was sure the car was more than capable of fighting for a championship crown as the year goes on.
"I know this is a car I can definitely challenge for the title with,” he told the Daily Telegraph
. "Jenson proved it. He had a fantastic race and it's definitely a good start to the year that both of us finished on the podium and in the points.
"It's still going to be a close season because the Red Bulls are massively quick, and God knows where they came from on Sunday. We're still going to be able to attack, but for us to start at the front is a pretty good way forward.
"As for me, I definitely do feel as though I've got it in myself to go for the title. I feel as ready as ever. I was ready on Sunday, it's just that some things didn't go my way."
The Briton however was quick to point out that McLaren won't have it all their own way this season with a number of rivals having shown strong pace in the season opener although he remains confident of a good result again in Malaysia this weekend.
"We can't get too carried away with it because even Ferrari were quick in the race,” he said. "As for the Red Bulls, they look as though they have less (tyre) degradation than us, maybe. So it's too early to tell. In qualifying we were massively quick and competitive, but they were massively quick in the race. They are still a force to be reckoned with. I guess we're just an edge ahead, but we can't get too complacent.
"We'll look ahead with increased confidence. We just need to get more one-twos, but we're there. We're as quick as them at least. Malaysia should be a track where we should be quick again. Let's hope we can get a one-two there."