LONDON, April 22, 2011 (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton thanked his McLaren team for "performing a miracle" in giving him a race-winning car at the Chinese Grand Prix - and warned that they need to keep developing rapidly if they are to
stay in the title scrap.
Hamilton being received by his team.
"Red Bull and the others are not going to be sitting around waiting to see what happens," he said. "It is going to be a massive fight from now on even if we did an incredible job to turn our fortunes around so much.
"There is no doubt that we needed that win in China. Looking back at the last few weeks, we have done something incredible at this team. "To have turned the car around and made it a winner -- we've never done something that big in such a short space of time. I take my hat off to everybody back at the McLaren Technical Centre.
"Once again, they've performed miracles, but we can't sit still. We've still got more work to do to be able to match Red Bull. Don't get me wrong, what we've done has been incredible, but we need to go into the Turkish Grand Prix next month with more upgrades and improvements if we're to continue fighting at the front.
"And we know that other teams won't be standing still either. So although this win is the perfect way to head back to Europe and prepare for Istanbul, this is just the start of the fight."
Hamilton's win ended world champion Sebastian Vettel's season opening burst of two dominant victories for Red Bull and proved that McLaren had made a full recovery from their disappointing pre-season test form.
Hamilton, world champion in 2008, now believes he can go on and build a strong challenge for his second title in furtherance of his ambition to become a multi-champion with McLaren, the team he always supported as a boy.
He admitted there had been talk of him leaving when his current contract ended in 2012, but stressed that his preferred future was with the McLaren team. And he admitted, too, that it was only thanks to the excellence of his team
that he was able to take part in last Sunday's race in Shanghai after a fuel leak caused serious problems shortly before the start.
He left the pit-lane with less than a minute to go and drove around the track with some pieces of his car's bodywork still missing. "It was a really unusual moment. We've had times before when there's maybe been a problem with the car, or a delay in leaving the garage, but it's never happened before when it's been so tight or so important," he said.
"I could hear over the radio that there was a problem starting the engine and I could see people were starting to react a bit more quickly. To be honest, I just wanted to keep calm. I was strapped into the cockpit and I knew this wasn't something where I could help. "Andy Latham, my race engineer, did a great job of keeping me informed, but
also just staying calm. And Philip Prew, the principal race engineer, kept an eye on the countdown and made sure we made it out to the grid in time.
"It's never been closer, but we made it - and the result was really fantastic for me and the team. Now it's battle on for everyone and I have a feeling it is going to be a terrific season."