Lewis Hamilton might not have been able to win the 2013 F1 Grand Prix of China, but he'd put up a spirited fight throughout and felt satisfied that he and the team had managed to achieve everything that was realistically possible in the circumstances.

"It was a good race for me today and whilst I would have loved the win, I'm really happy with third place," he insisted after narrowly beating Sebastian Vettel across the finish line at the end of 56 laps. "We got the absolute most out of the car we had and that's very satisfying.

"My tyres were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian," admitted the Briton. "I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place."

But as for finishing any higher up the podium, that simply hadn't been on the cards on Sunday at Shanghai, he revealed, with the Mercedes still lacking the raw pace being enjoyed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Lotus' Kimi Riakkonen on Sunday.

"Fernando and Kimi were just a little bit too fast for us during the race," he said. "We're not quite there yet in terms of overall pace but everyone is working so hard and I know we can do it," he added. "The guys did a great job this weekend to get us where we were; on pole and finishing third."

The result means that Hamilton has now clinched back-to-back podium finishes in two of the first three races with his new team Mercedes since switching from McLaren at the end of 2012.

"He drove extremely well," as the verdict of Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. "We needed to keep the stints as evenly balanced as possible to make sure we had adequate tyre life; however, even with that it became very close with Sebastian at the end.

"Overall we can be confident that we've made another step forward this weekend," Brawn said, pointing out: "The fact that we're all a little disappointed with third is a measure of the ambition and expectations of the team."

"Starting from pole obviously raises expectations," pointed out Mercedes' director of motorsport Toto Wolff. "However, we knew that tyre management would be very critical for us today. During practice and qualifying, the track conditions suited us better than in the race today and, as a result, the balance of the car changed and wasn't as good for both drivers."

Unfortunately the problem was much worse for Nico Rosberg than it had been for Hamilton, meaning that there would be no repeat joy last year's Chinese GP race winner - who this time ended his race early back in the Mercedes garage after 21 laps.

"I had an unexpected level of understeer which made it difficult to drive," explained Rosberg later. "After my second pit stop, the feeling got worse and I had one front wheel in the air during the corners. The rear anti-roll bar, which influences the balance of the car, had broken so unfortunately we had to retire the car.

"It's a shame and I've had a difficult start to the season with two DNFs," he said. "But it's good to have the next race in just seven days time so hopefully we can put this result behind us with a strong weekend in Bahrain.

And in the meantime he had to be content sharing in the team's success with Hamilton. "It was great for the team to get another podium today," he said.