Lewis Hamilton says McLaren need to improve race pace

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Lewis Hamilton says he needs to improve his pace in races after taking third in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver started from pole but finished third - the same situation as in Australia a week ago.

Hamilton lost the lead through pit-stop problems but admitted he had not been able to keep pace with winner Fernando Alonso and runner-up Sergio Perez.

"We're still competitive but, in the race, I have to go and look at the pace of the other people," he said.

"We need to improve our race pace, I think our race pace could be better."

Hamilton led a rain-interrupted race in Malaysia from the start but, after slipping to third place after a delay in a pit stop, Alonso and Perez pulled away from him and he could do nothing about it.

It was a surprising situation for a man who is renowned for being one of the best drivers in F1 in wet conditions.

Hamilton said he felt the McLaren was perhaps lacking aerodynamic performance in race trim.

"We could do with some more downforce," he said. "We are very quick in a straight line so I'm sure we can lose some efficiency and pick up some downforce."

But Hamilton said he was encouraged to finish on the podium again - and said he was trying to recover the form that saw him finish in the top three for his first nine races in F1 back in 2007.

"I can't complain," he said. "The car has been good all weekend and the team has done a great job and I'm on the podium again, which is my target, to have consistency.

"I can't for the life of me understand how I did it in 2007 so I'm trying to repeat that."

The result puts Hamilton in second place in the championship, five points behind Alonso and five ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, who finished out of the points after what he described as "a horrendous race."

Button lost ground early on after damaging his front wing in a collision with HRT's Narain Karthikeyan and never recovered.

"I didn't do a very good job and everything that could have gone wrong did," said Button, who won the first race in Australia.

"Just one of those afternoons. A lot of the issues were because I wiped my front wing off, locked up my rears and couldn't slow down.

"Not a good day for me but the amazing thing is I'm still third in the championship.

"I don't want to look at any of the footage today, just move forward and hope I have a good weekend in China."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said it had been a frustrating weekend for his team after a winning start in Australia.

"Losing the front wing for Jenson was a disaster," he said. "Valuable points for Lewis. For Jenson, it was a bad day in the office.

"It's disappointing but that's motor racing. In these conditions, it's about if you can turn the tyres on.

"I think at the end, there wasn't a great speed differential but they [Ferrari and Sauber] had got track position."