APRIL 14, 2013
Hamilton happy to prove critics wrong
Lewis Hamilton has admitted pole in China is one step closer to confounding his critics after leaving F1 grandee McLaren.
Less than delighted team orders handed him his maiden Mercedes podium in Malaysia, the 2008 world champion was however delighted to dominate qualifying in Shanghai one race later.
"I can't answer (the critics) with one result," he said in China, "but bit by bit, as we progress and improve, they will have to stand corrected."
Some have expressed surprise not only at Mercedes' relative strength versus struggling McLaren in 2013, but also at how quickly Hamilton has settled in to his new surroundings after six years with the same team.
"I was worried about Hamilton," former F1 driver Patrick Tambay told France's RMC Sport. "I thought it would take a year for him to get everything in place."
Mercedes' Niki Lauda, however, said he is not surprised at all.
"Because he is good. From day one he has done a perfect job," the plain-speaking Austrian told Sun newspaper.
"I worked hard to get him and I am happy now he is really achieving what I knew he can do.
"Taking a driver, who is a top guy who people look up to, is the quickest way to get a team going."
On the other side of the coin, McLaren might now be missing the driver it groomed from boyhood.
"Congratulations to Lewis," team boss Martin Whitmarsh said in Shanghai. "He is a good driver in a good car, so it was inevitable."
Hamilton is happy with the decision to quit McLaren for the more competitive Mercedes, but he is not gloating.
"Naturally, I still have a real soft spot for McLaren," the 28-year-old said in a BBC column.
"They got me to F1, there will always be a place for them in my heart and I would never wish anything negative on them.
"It is sad for me to see they are struggling this year and I have no doubt they will improve and get back to the front," Hamilton added.