Lewis Hamilton reckoned he might have had a chance to keep up with the leaders in the Bahrain Grand Prix had he not lost out to Nico Rosberg on the opening lap.
The McLaren fell behind the Mercedes as they jostled in the opening corners, and then followed it until the first pit stops. Hamilton pulled away from Rosberg having vaulted him in the pits, and eventually picked up third behind the Ferraris as Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull slowed.
"I had quite a good race, unfortunately I lost a bit of ground, locked up into Turn 4 and went wide, got in a bad position and Rosberg got past me," Hamilton said. "I was then much faster but it's difficult to follow here and look after the tires. If I was ahead of him maybe I would have been able to follow the train these guys [the Ferraris] were creating."
Hamilton felt third was a good result given that McLaren had not been on Red Bull and Ferrari's pace in qualifying.
"It is a strong result for me and the team," he said. "It was more than we expected. We need to continue to push to keep up with these guys."
He said the first race of the no-refueling era had been slightly frustrating for him, but wanted to reserve judgment until later in the season.
"It is a different challenge," Hamilton said. "It definitely didn't make the racing more exciting in terms of overtaking. I wasn't able to follow in the first third of the circuit. There wasn't enough grip from the tires to hold with him. But it is an interesting season ahead of us. Everyone is learning how to use tires more – try to understand the tires, conserve the fuel load, when to attack and not to attack. I hope we can do a good job in showing the fans what we are doing."
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