F1: Lewis Hamilton promises fireworks after Mercedes is brought up to speed

But former team-mate Jenson Button stuck in slow lane and expecting to suffer again in Sunday’s race

Sepang

While Lewis Hamilton bubbles with enthusiasm for his chances in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, former team-mate Jenson Button simply has his fingers crossed that a raft of changes to his McLaren might generate the miracle that he needs to get back in the hunt after a hugely disappointing first race of the season.

“I really think that we can go a lot better than we did in Australia,” said Hamilton, who qualified his Mercedes a competitive third but then finished fifth as Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull demonstrated slightly superior race pace in Melbourne last week.

“I came away with 10 points and I feel really happy with that. When I did the switch [from McLaren] I didn’t know where we would be and I definitely didn’t think I would come away from the first race with 10 points – and also with the feeling that it is not just going to be a lucky shot in the first race.”

After seeing Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel finish on the podium in Melbourne, it remains to be seen whether Hamilton’s Mercedes can challenge in Malaysia. However, the 2008 world champion appears much more relaxed than he has been for a while and has clearly settled in extremely quickly with his new team.

“I feel positive about the car, and really positive about the team,” he said. “They are moving very, very fast in terms of developing the car and how I like to work, and I think I am learning quite quickly how they like to work. Of course we could have done things better, but it was our first race together and no matter how much you prepare for it, you cannot prepare perfectly.

“All the other top teams are really good at developing the car and moving forward very fast. That’s something the team are ready to do, so hopefully that shines this weekend.”

Button, by contrast, never dreamed that he would leave Australia with only two points after finishing a disappointing ninth, with McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez two places further back. New technical director Tim Goss – who worked with Button during his world championship winning season with Brawn in 2009 – has been brought in to replace Mercedes-bound Paddy Lowe although Button is not expecting any miracles in Sepang.

“We don’t really know enough about the car yet so it’s going to be another tough weekend ” he admitted. “But this is a circuit where we are a little bit lucky in terms of the bumpiness. It’s a lot smoother than the last race, which should help us quite a bit. In Melbourne we were hitting the ground so hard [with the bottom of the car] that we would have damaged the plank beneath it.”

After Hamilton and Button returned 40 points at Albert Park last season by finishing first and third, it has been a difficult week of soul-searching for their team of that time, McLaren. Yet team principal Martin Whitmarsh, whose future with the team could be in doubt if things do not improve, remains confident that several new developments will ensure they can be competitive and ruled out the possibility they could switch to last year’s car instead.

“All our efforts are currently focused on understanding this year’s car, not considering last year’s car,” he said. “At the moment we have to work hard on this car. We know it has got some areas of high potential and we know it has potentially more downforce than last year’s car.

“We just need to understand it and make sure [the performance] is accessible. We believe in what we can do as a team. I am sure we are going to get there. It probably won’t get there as quickly as I would like it to, but I will be encouraging them to do so.”

Meanwhile, Raikkonen believes that Lotus are in a good position to repeat their success in Melbourne thanks to some updates the team have brought to Malaysia.

“Last year we were pretty good when it was hot and actually it was better for us,” he said, “but obviously we haven’t run in these kind of conditions and the winter has been very cold, so I have no idea. If it’s anything like it was last year we should be okay, but we have to wait and see how it goes.”

Lotus technical director James Allison backed his driver’s chances. He said: “In Australia he drove a clever race in the way he controlled the pace and got the best out of the car.”

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices