LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton says his new McLaren is as good as any car he has ever driven in Formula One, including the one that took him to the title in 2008.
“I love driving this year’s car,” the Briton said on his website (www.lewishamilton.com) on Thursday on his return from last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
“I said to my engineers in Malaysia that I’d never had a car that felt as solid and as planted as the MP4-25.
“It feels like a car that you can not only find a perfect balance with, but you can also really push it, and it reacts well to the changes on full-tanks or when it’s empty.”
The 25-year-old said that all this meant he had been able to push to the limit, which is how he loves to drive.
“I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed driving a Formula One car more than I have with this year’s car,” he said.
“Of course, it hasn’t been perfect — but then nothing is — but I feel extremely confident for the races ahead.”
Hamilton is sixth in the standings with 31 points from the first three races in Bahrain, Australia and Malaysia and just eight behind Ferrari’s overall leader Felipe Massa.
Even if he has yet to win this season, unlike team mate and champion Jenson Button, the Briton has had some outstanding races.
He gained 10 places in the space of four laps in Malaysia, qualifying 20th after the team misjudged the weather but finishing sixth.
In Australia he was battling for second place after a drive he ranked as one of his best when McLaren told him to pit for a change of tyres that cost him a podium and again left him sixth. In a dull Bahrain season-opener, he was third.
The performance of the 2010 McLaren is a marked contrast to last year, when Hamilton started the season with an underperforming car that took months of hard work before it could be transformed into a winner. “I came away from the first three races this year knowing that very little was lost and that everything is still to play for,” he said.
“Given where we were last year, that’s a major positive for us. Could we have scored more points? Almost certainly, but we were reliable when it mattered, and we’ve shown we have the pace to fight at the front.” (Editing by Sonia Oxley; To query anything on this story email email@example.com)