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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 15:29 UK

Hamilton faces long wait for wins

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren trio pleased after positive weekend

Lewis Hamilton thinks it will be mid-season before McLaren can compete for wins - despite an improved showing at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The world champion was sixth on Sunday, one place behind team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, but McLaren are still off the pace of the front-running cars.

"It's going to be some time before we compete with the top guys, at least four or five races," Hamilton said.

"I love racing in the wet, but that was one of my worst performances."

McLaren have had a torrid start to the season, getting embroiled in problems off the track as well as struggling with an uncompetitive car.

They face an inquiry by the sport's governing body on 29 April after Hamilton was found guilty of misleading race stewards following the Australian Grand Prix.

The affair has led to sporting director Dave Ryan, who was in the stewards' room with Hamilton, losing his job after 35 years with the team.

McLaren took developments to their car to China and Hamilton made it into the top 10 run-off in qualifying for the first time this season, lining up ninth on the grid.

And the drivers' performance in the race moved the team up to fourth in the constructors' championship.

F1 Mole

"The car's reliability is fantastic and these were some good points for us, but we need to continue to move forwards," Hamilton told BBC Sport.

Kovalainen, who had not completed a racing lap in the first two grands prix of the season, added: "Scoring a few points in the difficult conditions was a pretty good end to our weekend.

"Clearly we are going forwards, which is the most important thing, and for the next race we will have a few more updates to the car and will try to do even better.

"Everything is going fine, we just need that extra bit of performance, which will eventually come because the team is working hard, and then we will be fighting for the victories."

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said: "Overall we knew we weren't going to live with either the Red Bulls or the Brawns, so to have some solid points and those two places is a great effort by the team and great drives by both the drivers.

"We need new bits. Clearly, we are not quick enough yet so everyone is pushing hard. But we will have some new bits on the car and we will have enough to to consolidate this and do a solid job in Bahrain [the next race on 26 April]."

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see also
Buoyant Vettel eyes more F1 glory
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Ferrari predict end to poor form
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel seals first Red Bull win
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton not upset by Dennis exit
17 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren's Dennis quits Formula 1
16 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren face FIA 'lying' inquiry
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren dismiss long-serving Ryan
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
What next for Hamilton?
07 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
02 Nov 09 |  Drivers & Teams
Lewis Hamilton
02 Mar 09 |  Drivers & Teams
Heikki Kovalainen
02 Mar 09 |  Drivers & Teams

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