McLaren's Lewis Hamilton believes that it is still possible for him to retain the drivers' World Championship despite scoring just four points in the opening three races of the season.
The 24-year-old, who currently lies 10th in the drivers' standings, insists that he has not given up hope despite the strong early season form of McLaren's rivals.
"I think it's still on, but the other guys are quite a bit ahead," Hamilton told reporters after today's second free practice session. "Anything can happen in 14 races, so we remain optimistic.
"We're just going to keep doing the best job we can and if we can catch up, we can catch up. If not, we do the best that we can and focus on next season."
Although Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 has not had any new development parts introduced for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, he found the car's handling more to his liking today than he did throughout the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
"It does feel a bit better here but we've not brought any updates," he said. "We're working with the setup, at refining and fine tuning it and it does feel better here. There's less locking and three-wheeling here, which is a plus. We don't know what the others are doing but we feel happier with the performance.
"It is very tight. We don't know what fuel everybody's on, but we are definitely improving. But there are other guys who are a bit faster than us.
"We are pushing to win, but we are not quick enough at the moment, but we are getting closer. It's still going to be two or three races until that is possible.
Hamilton also stated repeatedly that he has not been distracted by the impending FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing over the Australian/Malaysian Grand Prix stewards' room controversy. He insists that the atmosphere within the team is better than ever and is fully committed to McLaren.
"I am not thinking about it," he said in response to being question about how he puts the problem out of his mind. "We have a goal, we have a target and we are working towards it without distractions.
"I'm enjoying myself and I don't abandon my team when things get tough," said Hamilton. "We've had bad and good times together and I'm happy where I am. We've gt a long way to go and hopefully I've got a long long time here.
"The great thing is that the guys are still very enthusiastic and working harder than ever. They seem better than they ever have been."Related story:McLaren sends written apology to FIA over "lie-gate"