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Page last updated at 22:49 GMT, Sunday, 26 April 2009 23:49 UK

Improving Hamilton urges caution

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton delighted with fourth place

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport in Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton has warned there will be no quick fix for his McLaren team's problems despite an improved showing at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday.

The world champion achieved his best result of the season with fourth place but said the McLaren was still "a long way behind" the leading cars.

"I'm delighted, considering we started fifth, but it was just so hard to keep up with the guys," he said.

"Brawn and Toyota are so quick in the fast corners it was impossible for me."

McLaren were much more competitive in Bahrain than they had been at other venues this year.

We're not really fighting back up there... we have just done a better job than a lot of people

Lewis Hamilton

But that was partly down to the configuration of the circuit - the Sakhir track does not have many of the high-speed corners that expose the McLaren's lack of aerodynamic downforce.

"When you're behind people you learn a lot," said Hamilton, who spent portions of the race chasing Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

"It's fairly difficult to follow someone who has a lot more downforce than you. From Turn 4 onwards they lose me. It's just on the ragged edge each time.

"We're not really fighting back up there. We have just done a better job than a lot of people. While they make mistakes we are just collecting the points. We are still a long way behind with the car."

McLaren have a major update to the car for the next race in Spain on 10 May - as will all the other leading teams.

Despite that, both Hamilton and team boss Martin Whitmarsh said they expected to be further behind the pace-setters at the Barcelona track.

Hamilton is up to seventh in the drivers' standings with nine points
Hamilton is up to seventh in the drivers' standings with nine points

"When we get to Barcelona I think the gap will be bigger - they will be a bit further ahead because it's a high downforce circuit," Hamilton said. "We will have to challenge for the top 10. I think the top five might be harder."

Whitmarsh reiterated the argument that McLaren were lagging behind teams because their focus was on the battle for the championship rather than the design for this year's car.

"We have a year of development ahead of us," Whitmarsh said. "We've got to make sure we continue to improve.

"We are lacking downforce - they (the leading teams) are nine months ahead of us in the development of their car."

Before the Barcelona race, McLaren face a hearing at F1's disciplinary court, the FIA World Council, on Wednesday.

They are facing charges arising from the Australian Grand Prix "lying" scandal, when Hamilton and former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan were found guilty of misleading race stewards.


Any number of charges are available to the FIA, ranging from exclusion from the world championship to no penalty at all.

It is believed that the FIA are determined to get to the truth of who was behind the decision to tell stewards Hamilton had not let Toyota driver Jarno Trulli pass him, or been asked to, while the field was behind the safety car in Australia.

Hamilton and Ryan, who has since been sacked, denied either of those things had happened, when McLaren's radio transmissions proved the team had instructed their driver to let Trulli pass him.

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see also
Brilliant Button wins in Bahrain
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Button expects close title battle
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton considered quitting F1
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
David Coulthard column
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren make apology for 'lying'
24 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
Dennis plays down McLaren concern
11 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton loses Aussie GP points
02 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Dennis to quit as McLaren F1 boss
16 Jan 09 |  Formula 1

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