LEWIS HAMILTON remains upbeat over his title chances despite managing just one podium finish from the first three races of the new Formula One season.
The McLaren driver’s third place at the opener in Bahrain has so far been the highlight of the traditional early-season ‘flyaway’ races, which conclude in China next week before the series heads back to Europe.
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel has shown ominous pace at the opening three races, but mechanical gremlins have conspired to limit his wins to just one, in Malaysia last time out.
Fernando Alonso was the beneficiary of the German’s woes in Bahrain as he took the win on his debut for Ferrari, while Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button profited from Vettel’s retirement to win in Australia after making an inspired early switch to dry tyres.
Hamilton, meanwhile, had to be content with a pair of sixth places at the last two rounds, but his consistency has nevertheless kept him well in the title hunt.
The 2008 world champion is sixth in the drivers’ standings on 31 points, just eight adrift of championship leader Felipe Massa, and Hamilton was happy to note that the damage done to his title ambitions by McLaren’s lack of outright pace has been kept to a minimum.
“I came away from the first three races this year knowing that very little was lost and that everything is still to play for,” said Hamilton.
“Could we have scored more points? Almost certainly, but we were reliable when it mattered, and we’ve shown we have the pace to fight at the front. And that’s what I take home from the opening flyaways.”
While Red Bull appear to have the quickest car overall, the rest of the pack are too close to call, with McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and even Renault showing comparable levels of pace.