Lewis Hamilton riding high with Mercedes

The former McLaren driver's switch of teams is looking a good decision

Lewis Hamilton has the look of a man who has silenced the doubters.

He was derided when he abandoned McLaren for the less-glamorous Mercedes team this season. Critics questioned his integrity and accused him of being driven by money.

But three races into the season, his gamble appears to be paying off. He had his second podium in three races last week at the Chinese Grand Prix, where he also earned his first pole, and some of that cockiness has returned to a man known for his tattoos and glamorous lifestyle.

"It is good to walk around with my head up and smile at all those who have helped me in my decision and gave me the opportunity," Hamilton told the Formula One website. "I also feel good about myself. I have really thought it through and it is great to see now that the team is doing so well and that I can contribute to that success."

Hamilton knows the team still has work to do.

Although he finished third last week, he struggled to keep up with the Ferraris after starting on pole and just barely crossed the line ahead of a hard-charging Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. He also was well behind the Ferraris and Vettel in the first practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday, finishing 13th.

Still, Hamilton appears taken aback by the team's strong start and the fact the car is so much faster than the McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

"That is probably the biggest surprise - where we are in relation to them. The McLaren at the end of last year was awesome — the quickest car on the grid — and usually if you have the quickest car and there are not massive changes in the regulations you carry that into the next year," Hamilton said.

"So it should, again, be a quick and awesome car, but for some reason — I don't know why — it hasn't happened that way. But that is not my concern anymore. And take Mercedes: They had a car that was nowhere, and look, we had a pole position last weekend. What a great feeling that was, it is a beautiful car to drive."

The 2008 world champion said he hasn't talked to Button and Perez about the problems but has remained in contact with the team — even accidently trying to drive into the McLaren pits during the Malaysian GP.

"I went to see them in Australia. But I also tried to see them in Jerez, at the test, and there (sporting director) Sam Michael threw me out of the garage. That wasn't very positive and I don't feel very good about that," he said. "(Team principal) Martin (Whitmarsh) has been great and I have to say that I haven't had enough contact, so I will give Martin a call."

Hamilton put Mercedes' pace down to necessary adjustments after an inconsistent 2012.
"They've been lost before. They have even said that," he said. "The aerodynamics, the wind tunnel — people were in the wrong place. So they took a step back and tried to analyze everything and move things into the right position. The car has just been on a positive curve since they changed the wind tunnel, since they made all these changes within the last half year, and they've been improving at a very serious rate."

Though Mercedes has improved markedly, Hamilton remains cautious about predicting he could win another title this year or even a race in the near term.

"One step at a time. I don't want to shoot straight at P1. But of course if it comes, it comes," he said. "I am not saying 'we have to win.' So if we move forward — a second place and then a first — that would be fantastic. So my target for this weekend is to finish higher than last weekend. And all signals suggest that we can do it. I feel very positive for this weekend. Sure, it is a very tough track for tire degradation, but generally I've always been quite quick here."

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain