Lewis Hamilton said that he was thrilled with the way that his first race outing in Mercedes team colours had gone, after finishing in fifth place in the 2013 F1 Grand Prix of Australia in Melbourne.

"I'm happy with our result today and it's much better than we expected for the first race of the season," he told reporters in Albert Park after the race. "I think it's great, I'm very happy, it's way better than we ever expected in the first race of the season. It's a great place to start.

"The car felt really good out there," he continued. "I had a strong first stint and was able to make the supersofts last longer than most of the others." Hamilton ran as high as second place after getting the jump on Red Bull off the line, but quickly fell foul of the two Ferraris in the opening laps while Hamilton was focussing on minimising tyre wear as much as possible.

Despite his best efforts, he admitted that it still wasn't quite good enough to meet the requirements for a two-stop race. "We'd planned for two stops but converted to a three-stop strategy during the race," he said.

We had a very good opening stint of the race, making the supersoft tyre last until lap 13 for Lewis," elaborated Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. "That convinced us that a two-stop strategy was feasible this afternoon. However, the balance on the medium tyre was not what we needed.

"Having committed to two stops, and adjusted our pace accordingly to preserve the tyres, the decision to convert to a three-stop strategy compromised Lewis relative to those cars who had gone for three from the start," he explained.

After that, Hamilton was battling hard just to maintain position and it was clear that at this early stage of the season the Mercedes simply didn't have the raw race pace of many of their rivals.

"I don't quite know where we lost the ground to the cars ahead so we'll have a look at the race again now and figure it out," he admitted. "The car was feeling pretty good so I don't really understand why other people were pulling away.

He added, "The important thing is that we have a car that we can really work with and the team have done a fantastic job to get us to this position."

"We learned a lot this afternoon," agreed Toto Wolff, the new head of motorsports for Mercedes-Benz. "We can see that we have a solid basis to work from, now we need to keep our heads down and work hard to improve further."

But there was no doubting what a happy - and relieved - man Hamilton was on Sunday evening, having staked his future career on a risky switch to Mercedes after so many years in the McLaren family.

"Thanks to everyone here and back at base for their support over my first race weekend with Mercedes," he said.

"Now we'll look forward to Malaysia next weekend and hopefully build on this positive start with an improved performance. "Malaysia is going to be tough but hopefully we can have a better result. It's going to be tough with the tyres," he added.


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