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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 07:42 GMT
Debut display delights Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton celebrates his third place finish on the podium
Englishman Lewis Hamilton was thrilled after finishing third on his Formula One debut at the Australian Grand Prix.

"I was ecstatic. I still am," said the 22-year-old, who briefly led the race before finishing behind Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso.

"To lead in my first Grand Prix was fantastic. It's tough when you have a two-times world champion behind you.

"To be on the podium for my first race - I couldn't be more happy. The hard work has just paid off."

It was great to lead for a few laps, but I knew it was only temporary

Lewis Hamilton

It was a remarkable performance by Hamilton, the youngest driver on the grid.

He became the first debutant to finish on the podium since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996, also at Melbourne, and set a new record as the youngest ever podium finisher.

He got past Alonso at the start and held the Spaniard off until the second pit stops, even leading for four laps when Kimi Raikkonen made a pit stop.

"The race was intense, and I was working very hard. I made a few mistakes but nothing major and really enjoyed myself," he said.

"It was great to lead for a few laps, but I knew it was only a temporary thing.


"Fernando got past me at the second pitstop as he was able to stay out a bit longer and I lost some time behind backmarkers.

"We now have a lot of work ahead of us with the Malaysia test and the rest of the season, but there is no doubt that we can build from what has been achieved here."

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Hamilton glee at 'dream' display
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