Lewis Hamilton points to consistency in title challenge

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton is adamant he has the consistency to fight Sebastian Vettel for this year's Formula One world title.

Ahead of the current new campaign Hamilton often expressed a desire to be more consistent, that it was crucial to being in the hunt for a championship.

After the first two races of this year, however, Hamilton's drives have been startlingly different, with the one in Australia when he was runner-up proving smooth and composed, something he alluded to post race.

But in Malaysia yesterday, the 26-year-old was far from happy as he criticised the team's strategy, tyre choice and pit stops, before falling foul of the stewards again.

A retrospective drive-through penalty for weaving in front of old adversary Fernando Alonso resulted in Hamilton having 20 seconds added to his elapsed time, dropping him from seventh to eighth.

It all appears a far cry from the way Hamilton has spoken before, but he said: "The consistency I have talked about, I think I have it.

"I qualified second again, and in the race it was there, but it just didn't go well for me.

"The strategy wasn't perfect, a pit-stop wasn't perfect, but that is the way it goes.

"You just have to take it one day at a time. We're naturally happy to be where we are, fighting at the front.

"It is why we exist as a team - to win and be challenging for wins and to perfect things.

"So I feel very grateful to be in the fight, and of course, I want to make sure I finish every race.

"I had a few DNFs last year, and the majority of those were because of mistakes or incidents, and a couple of others were mechanical problems.

"We obviously want to avoid those this season because without them we would have had a much better chance of winning the championship.

"So that's our focus - consistency, and if we can win whilst doing that, then fantastic."

On a positive note for Hamilton he at least collected four points, which could prove invaluable come the end of the season.

For now, he is already 28 points adrift of Vettel after two races as the German has so far made the perfect start with two wins out of two.

At present there is only one driver and one team to beat, although the 23-year-old currently appears unstoppable after being on pole and winning five of the last six grands prix.

After finishing second at Sepang yesterday with a measured drive that typifies him, Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button is aware that Vettel is in a class of his own.

"When somebody makes a start to a season like Sebastian has it's tricky," said Button, who won six of the first seven races for Brawn GP in his title-winning year in 2009.

"We've only had the two races so far and he's already a race win in front of me and I'm second in the championship. Nobody else has been that consistent.

"It's not a perfect situation by any means, but we have to remember there are still another 17 races to go, maybe 18."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed plans to trial, and potentially run with, a new floor and exhaust for Sunday's race in China.

Button is naturally hoping for further gains that will see them leapfrog Red Bull.

"In terms of pace we at McLaren are the second best team," said the 31-year-old.

"But we need to find some improvements, which are in the pipeline.

"It's exciting for us, we've made some good improvements already, and hopefully in China we can make a really good race of it."