Lewis Hamilton will not take championship lead for granted

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has insisted he will not take his championship lead for granted after another consistent performance in the Chinese Grand Prix.

In 2011, his title hopes were hit by non-finishes leading to his promise focus on regular points over race wins.

On Sunday he scored his third successive third place to head the drivers' standings.

"It's been a long time since I've lead the championship," Hamilton told BBC Sport. "It's a nice feeling."

Hamilton, who last led the championship after the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix, heads team-mate Jenson Button by two points, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso falling two places to third, a further six points behind.

"I won't take it for granted," added Hamilton. "I'm happy to have moved forward. That was the goal, that was the aim.

"I would have loved to have had more points and maybe a win or two, but we're leading the constructors' championship and we're very competitive in the race.

"Now I will take my focus onto [Bahrain on 22 April] where I hope we can have a good qualifying and another good race."

The Englishman qualified on pole position for the first two races, and would have started on the front row again in China, alongside eventual race winner Nico Rosberg, had he not picked up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

"I'm sure that if we started from the front we would have given Nico a good run for his money, but congratulations to him," added Hamilton.

"I hope in the next race, without penalties, we'll be able to have a good fight."

McLaren decided on a three-stop strategy, which required Hamilton and Button to overtake on track.

"The boys did so much overtaking today, which is great," said McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh. "To leave here leading the constructors' and having a one-two in the drivers' [standings] is a reasonable start to the year.

"I think this was a fantastic race for the fans. We're not dominating, but fortunately no one else is.

"This is going to be a season that focuses on limiting mistakes and being able to overtake on the circuit."

Button was pleased to be back on the podium, but rued a problem at his final pit stop which ultimately ended hopes of challenging Rosberg for victory.

"There was amazing amounts of overtaking, and there were some great passes," he said.

"I had a lot of fun, but there is a little pain in my back that hurts because we could have challenged for the win.

"But it's nice to be back on the podium here [after retirement in Malaysia]."