McLaren's Lewis Hamilton relishes Korean Grand Prix revival
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was pleased to answer his critics with a feisty second place at the Korean Grand Prix.
The 2008 champion defended from Mark Webber's Red Bull for half the race to take his first podium in six races.
"It feels good to be back," said Hamilton. "With the amount of pressure I was being put under I'm very, very happy with that performance."
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh added: "It was one of his great, great drives. I'm very proud of what he did."
Hamilton had arrived in South Korea determined to put a string of incidents and mixed results behind him, although he had insisted that even a win here would not make amends for a difficult season.
But Hamilton, who has faced the stewards more than any other driver this season, said he was pleased to take second with a strong drive and to finish above team-mate Jenson Button, who was fourth.
"I was able to keep calm on the track and stay out of trouble, so that's a positive on one side," Hamilton added.
"I'm happy to be the one that's got the most points for the team this weekend.
"Especially with the pressure, it's very easy to lock up and make mistakes, to go wide, but I didn't do that once.
"The last six races I've not been anywhere near that position. It's the result I'd like to have to build on - a new foundation to hopefully have some continued success."
The result may have underlined Hamilton's abilities but he insisted he had never lost faith in himself.
"I've always felt confidence in myself regardless of the negative talk around me," he added.
"I still rise above it and I think that's the key. Every human being has tough times and I just keep my head down and this weekend I have."
Whitmarsh said he was proud of the way Hamilton had risen above the pressures surrounding him.
"After all sorts of detractors, I think he should leave this [race] feeling that was an absolutely thorough, brilliant piece of driving," he said.
"To defend like that throughout a race with a car that wasn't performing as well as it should have been.
"It's easy to win races when you're at the front and you've got the best car; the real style and real class is when you've got a car that is not performing as it should and you defend.
"You could see that was not easy what Lewis did. It was relentless.
"When you have a car behind you which is quicker and has DRS to be able to hold on like that was truly brilliant. It was a great, great drive."
When asked if he knew if there was any reason why Hamilton did not seem wholly happy after the race, Whitmarsh responded: "Professionally he's happy.
"I can comment on his professional life. He says he's happy and any enquiry regarding his state of happiness should be to Lewis not to me.
"I've known Lewis a long time and I told him before the race to be relaxed. He was very determined and focused, and the summary is he should be incredibly satisfied with what he has done this weekend."
Hamilton had started in pole position but was overhauled off the line by race-winner Sebastian Vettel and soon found the German's Red Bull team-mate Webber harrying him after the first round of pit-stops.
Webber tried several times to pass Hamilton but the Englishman used his better traction out of the first corner to maintain a narrow gap over the Australian to the line.
"We were both pushing massively, for some reason the car got worse and worse at the front end and I was getting more lock, even though I had all the front wing I could possibly have in the car," explained Hamilton.
"Mark drove fantastically well. It was very, very fair and the only way I could stay ahead of him was the power I had out of the exit at Turn One.
"To be honest I wasn't sure I was able to keep him behind the whole time. It was a serious battle.
"I went backwards so I'm not ecstatic but first of the losers is still a better position to be in."