Hamilton calls on McLaren to improve qualifying
Lewis Hamilton has called on McLaren to beef up his car in qualifying if he is to have a decent crack at this year's Formula One world title.
Despite Jenson Button's victory in Australia on Sunday, and McLaren collecting 54 points from the opening two grands prix to sit second in the constructors' championship behind Ferrari, their Achilles heel has so far been their one-lap pace.
It has resulted in Hamilton and Button starting fourth and eighth on the grid in the season-opener in Bahrain respectively, and 11th and fourth in Melbourne.
The team's saving grace has been the performance of the car during a race, allowing the British duo to haul themselves up the field and claim reasonable results.
"In both Bahrain and Australia we've felt more comfortable with our race pace than the pace we showed in qualifying," said Hamilton.
"While that's encouraging, it's become clear we need to improve our qualifying pace if we're to have a regular shot at winning races.
"It's all very well being quick in the race, but if you can't make up places from your grid position, then your race is still going to be a struggle.
"We can take home the positives: our car is fast, much faster than it was this time last year, and it seems to be reliable.
"Now we need to work on single-lap pace, the sooner the better."
Hamilton's travails in Melbourne are now behind him, and he appears to have made peace with the team following his outburst over the in-car radio when he accused them of a "freaking stupid" call.
The 25-year-old was left fuming after the race as he was told to pit for a second occasion for fresh tyres at a time when he was running third and certain of a podium finish.
Instead, following a late collision with Mark Webber, Hamilton was forced to settle for a disappointing sixth following what he felt was one of the drives of his career.
However, the 2008 world champion now understands the call after the reasoning behind it was explained to him.
After a run-in with Melbourne police on Friday night to add to his weekend of woe, Hamilton at least has the chance to swiftly put to the back of his mind the events of a troubling few days given the Malaysian Grand Prix looms large this Sunday.
Mercifully for Hamilton, McLaren are in there fighting at present as he could have experienced Sebastian Vettel's depressing issues.
The Red Bull Racing star has qualified on pole and been on course for wins in Bahrain and Australia, only to suffer old reliability problems that plagued his title bid last season.
Appreciating he has at least scored heavily, Hamilton remarked: "The key to a good championship is consistent points scoring.
"Fortunately, the new points system makes it easier to pick up points in each race.
"Obviously, you want to score as many points as you can, but it's still important sometimes to go for the finish, pocket the points, and live to fight another day.
"Even at this early stage in the season we've seen it only takes a slight mistake or a small mechanical problem to drop you down the order.
"That's something we as a team have been very good at avoiding over the past few years."
As if to emphasise just how grateful he is to the job McLaren have done, and continue to do, he added: "I've an incredible team behind me.
"They've provided me with a phenomenally reliable car throughout my whole Formula One career, and I know well that every single point can be crucial at the end of the year.
"But while we feel relatively confident in our reliability, the key over the next couple of races will be to improve our performance to enable Jenson and I to take home some big points and move closer to the top of the championship tables.
"I'll really be pushing for that over the next couple of weeks."
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