Lewis Hamilton reckons that there is more to come from Mercedes W04 in its current guise after a better-than-expected start to the 2013 season in Australia a week ago.
The Briton may have slipped back a couple of places from his third on the grid in Melbourne, but remained upbeat about his performance, claiming that he would not have predicted a top five result on his debut with the Brackley-based team, even after a solid winter of testing. Even with little in the way of changes planned for the W04 ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, Hamilton believes that there is still ground to be gained on the frontrunners.
"When I made the switch [to Mercedes], I didn't know where we would be but I definitely didn't think we'd come away from the first race with ten points," the 2008 world champion told Sky Sports News
, "Overall, I think we struggled less [than expected]. The car performed really well. It was not the easiest of weekends, with the weather coming in and out, and it was new for the team and for me working with the engineers, so it was all in the air and we were trying to catch the balls as much as we could.
"We were strong in a lot of places, [but] I really don't feel we extracted the most from the car so coming [to Malaysia], I feel really positive and optimistic about the weekend – and [I have] the feeling that [Australia]'s not going to be just a lucky shot. It's something we can try to continue through the rest of the year. The top teams are really good at developing the car and moving forward really fast. I think that is something the team is learning to do."
Malaysia is among the venues where Hamilton is yet to win in F1 but, while he stops short of predicting an end to that record this weekend, the Briton is optimistic that he can help drive the Mercedes into contention.
"I just need a better set-up, I think,” he reasoned, “We're got a couple of new bits we added to the car, not particularly adding performance, but just fixing a couple of issues we might have had. I didn't get a set-up where I was able to extract the most from the car, so hopefully this weekend will be better.
“I haven't won here before - I've been very fortunate to have won at lots of other circuits, but this is definitely one of those I've not been able to dominate at. But who knows whether this could be the weekend? At some stage, we're going to win here...”