McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that he was pleased to see Lewis Hamilton so frustrated after seeing pole position turn into third place at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, reasoning that it showed that the fire still burned in the 2008 champion.
Hamilton had looked back to his imperious best after heading an all-McLaren front row in qualifying for the Albert Park event, but a poor start allowed team-mate Jenson Button into a lead he would not lose all afternoon, before an apparent lack of race pace and ill-timed safety car also allowed reigning champion Sebastian Vettel to steal second place. The Briton clearly look despondent during the podium celebrations and his subsequent appearance in the mandatory press conference resulted in a string of single sentence replies.
Reflecting on dropping behind his team-mate on the run to turn one, Hamilton admitted that he wasn't really sure what had happened 'but I lost at least too many positions', while he was also at a loss to explain the costly seconds that seemed to escape him at his first pit-stop. He was most frustrated, however, by the lack of pace in his MP4-27, particularly after his scintillating qualifying display.
"I had some degradation on my first set, although probably similar to others," he commented, "I damaged my tyres behind Sebastian, then I decided to drop back a little bit so I had some clear air, but Mark [Webber] was definitely putting pressure on. They were very quick down the straight, so there was no chance of getting past [even with DRS and KERS]."
Whitmarsh, while admitting to understanding his driver's mood, insisted that he wasn't worried by the display of frustration.
"You can see in this team that whoever wins is delighted and whoever doesn't win isn't happy," he told Sky Sports
, underlining the nature of the competitive relationship between Hamilton and Button, "Lewis wasn't going to be happy being third but, when Lewis does
start getting happy with that, or beaten by a team-mate, he won't be the Lewis we all love and admire."
Hamilton, meanwhile, has been installed as favourite for victory in Malaysia [HERE
], and says that he will be going all-out for pole and victory on Sunday.
"I definitely do feel as though I've got it in myself to go for the title," he noted, "I feel as ready as ever - I was ready on Sunday, it's just that some things didn't go my way. I definitely plan to redeem myself. It's about making sure I start off the weekend in the right way, as I did last weekend."