Hamilton: Merc the right choice

  • Last Updated: April 15 2013, 15:17 BST

Lewis Hamilton believes the fact he is firmly in this year's Formula One title fight is one in the eye for the critics who dared question his decision to quit McLaren.

Hamilton: In the title fight
Hamilton: In the title fight

After three grands prix and in securing Mercedes' back-to-back podium finishes for the first time in three years, Hamilton currently trails reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel by 12 points.

Hamilton's third place in yesterday's Chinese Grand Prix was at least one he earned as he held off a charging Vettel at the chequered flag, taken by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso for the 31st win of his career.

It was in contrast to three weeks ago in Malaysia when team-mate Nico Rosberg was told to hold station behind Hamilton, a situation the 28-year-old was far from comfortable with.

Although Hamilton went backwards after starting from his maiden pole for the team - a situation he has often previously stated he hates - on this occasion it was one he could stomach.

"I have a different outlook on this year," said Hamilton.

"Everyone was saying at the start it was the worst decision I could have possibly made in my life.

"But definitely, bit by bit, the more and more we impress and improve they have to stand to be corrected.

"Of course, people have an opinion, but I'm just really grateful I'm here and in the fight.

"It was such a big change for me, a big step for me. I think I made the right choice."

Although still early days, Hamilton is in the championship hunt, yet is wary because even he now concedes his pole position flattered his overall weekend.

Asked whether he considered himself in the title fight, Hamilton said: "I definitely feel like it at the moment.

"But I'm not focusing on the title because look at what happened to Nico with his car (anti-roll bar failure).

"He didn't finish, which is something that could happen to me at any time - and fingers crossed it won't moving forward.

"It can happen to anyone. Fernando (Alonso) didn't finish the last race (in Malaysia), but he has otherwise scored high points and is looking very strong.

"Then there is Kimi (Raikkonen) and another fantastic performance by Lotus. They've a very reliable car, and Kimi is on it, doing the job, which is not surprising for me.

"We're hanging on by the skin of our teeth at the moment, but we're also doing the job.

"We've a lot of work to do to improve reliability and pace, but we're on it.

"Let's hope we can maintain this kind of performance throughout the year, and be really strong."

Hamilton, though, knows his car lacked the pace of Alonso, but the fact he took pole, finished third and ahead of Vettel he feels speaks volumes for the strides made by Mercedes compared to last year.

"It was a good weekend, a good pole, and of course I would love to have won - which is what I was there to do - but we weren't as quick as the Ferraris," added Hamilton.

"If we didn't have some of the issues we had with the front wing then maybe I might have been able to overtaken the Lotus, but it was still very quick.

"We just need to improve. As Ross said (over the team radio at the end of the race) we're not quite there yet, but we're not far away.

"We're really happy with what we did. It just shows how we have improved so much. To be disappointed with a third is a real fortunate position to be in.

"We're really grateful for what we have. We just have to keep our feet on the ground because we've still a lot of work to do."

As to whether Hamilton can chalk up a hat-trick of podium places for Mercedes for the first time since they returned to F1 in 2010 at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Hamilton replied: "I hope so. I really hope so.

"Bahrain will hopefully be a better weekend for us. Shanghai is very much a front-limited circuit, and trying to look after that left-front tyre was a real shocker.

"For the next race, it's going to be all about the rear tyres, and whether or not we can look after them we'll have to wait and see."

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