McLaren must return to the drawing board says Lewis Hamilton


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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton believes it is a case of back to the drawing board for McLaren after their day of pain in Bahrain on Sunday.

Hamilton was deposed from the top of the championship standings by Sebastian Vettel as the reigning title holder took his first win of the season and 21st of his Formula One career.

Two bungled pit stops contributed to Hamilton finishing eighth to now trail Red Bull's Vettel by four points, the German the fourth different driver to win a race this year.

With McLaren team-mate Jenson Button retiring a lap from home when on course for fifth, it proved a day to forget for the Woking-based marque.

With another gap of nearly three weeks now to the next race in Barcelona, which includes a rare in-season three-day test at Mugello next week, Hamilton hopes answers can be found.

"I struggled with pace, with Sebastian pulling away at a second a lap, struggled with looking after the tyres. I just wasn't quick at all," bemoaned Hamilton.

"I still think I could have got fourth or fifth, but to end up eighth after two poor pitstops is disappointing.

"The only positive is that I scored four points, but overall there aren't a lot of positives to take.

"We have to go back to the drawing board and try and figure out where we are losing time, because we are quick in qualifying.

"But something changes in the race, so we have to go back and work harder at the factory, and if anyone can fix it, it's us.

"I'm sure everyone's frustrated, so we have to look on the bright side and keep positive."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh concedes his staff face "a lot of work ahead" to correct the issues that blighted their efforts in Bahrain.

With the Woking-based marque also usurped by Red Bull at the top of the constructors' championship, Whitmarsh said: "You have bad days and Sunday was one of them.

"But we're a strong team, we've come back from these things plenty of times before.

"We have to focus on and understand what we did wrong, how we weren't performing, because clearly we're doing something wrong.

"If you look at our pace in the race compared to that on Friday, we were a second slower.

"We're capable of doing that because we've good people, capable of recovering the situation, but there's no magic."

Button, meanwhile, has been left baffled at where it has unravelled for McLaren since his season-opening win in Australia.

"We were racing the Ferraris, and for most races this year they have been a second slower than us. It's difficult to understand what the problem is," said Button.

"So it's tough. I know we have to limit our mistakes because we have had too many.

"We have to improve. I think we're quick, but we have to make the consistency better."