Hamilton optimistic after fifth-place finish in Melbourne

Kimi Raikkonen

Lewis Hamilton praised his new team Mercedes after his first drive ended in a fifth-place finish at Melbourne.

"I'm happy with our result. It's much better than we expected for the first race of the season," said the former McLaren driver.

"The car felt really good - We'd planned for two stops but converted to a three-stop strategy during the race.

"Now we'll look forward to Malaysia and hopefully build on this positive start with an improved performance."

Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg also saw cause for optimism at Mercedes, despite retiring with an electrical fault after 26 laps.

"I had a good qualifying pace and the car also ran well in the wet," said Rosberg. "It looks like we have started to close the gap to the front runners."

Lewis Hamilton

Local hero Mark Webber missed out on a podium place in his home race for the 11th time despite starting from the front row of the grid.

"We had a few issues on the grid, getting the telemetry from the car to the pits," said Webber, who also reported a Kers failure on the Red Bull. "We had a slow pit stop (which was due to a front jack failure), which put me behind Jenson."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa complained afterwards that his three-stop strategy saw him being passed by his main rivals: "I wanted to stay on the track, it felt a little too early when they (called me) to stop. Both cars overtook me and then I was always behind these cars.

"Apart from this the race was good. It was positive. Even if I finished fourth, it's positive for the rest of the season, looking at how we finished last season."

Nico Hulkenberg's debut drive for Sauber will have to wait until Malaysia after a fuel pressure fault retired his car before the race.

"I'm bitterly disappointed about what happened today, but things like this happen in racing," he said. "The only good thing is that the next race takes place next weekend."

Hulkenberg's team-mate, Esteban Gutierrez, drove what team principal Monisha Kaltenborn described as a "solid race" to finish 13th on his debut.

"My main goal was to finish the race, and to achieve that is really enjoyable," he said. "We have a good base and in the future we will try and push forward."

Williams pair Pastor Maldonado and new boy Valtteri Bottas are both looking for better things in Malaysia after finishing out of the points.

"The car was not responding as we hoped in the conditions today and unfortunately I lost the back end," said Maldonado, whose race ended in a gravel trap.

"It felt great to be back racing again," said Bottas. "A small mistake a few laps in cost me some places though. We got the maximum performance we could from the car today and although the pace isn't there yet, there are still some positives to take away."

Australian Grand Prix, day three

Sunday, 17 March:
Race highlights: 14:20 GMT, BBC One.

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