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Hamilton welcomes Mercedes' strong start

MELBOURNE (AFP) –

Lewis Hamilton takes a bend during the qualifying session at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2013

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain takes a bend during the qualifying session at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2013. Hamilton said his new Mercedes team can build on the positive start of his fifth place in Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Former world champion Lewis Hamilton said his new Mercedes team can build on the positive start of his fifth place in Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Hamilton, who split from McLaren to join Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, was competitive throughout the 58-lap GP won by Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus.

Hamilton, who won the 2008 world championship while at McLaren, got Mercedes’ first points of the season after Rosberg failed to finish the race when his car suffered electronics problems on the 26th lap.

“I’m happy with our result today and it’s much better than we expected for the first race of the season,” Hamilton said.

“The car felt really good out there. I had a strong first stint and was able to make the supersofts (tyres) last longer than most of the others.

“We’d planned for two stops but converted to a three-stop strategy during the race.”

Hamilton said there was plenty for Mercedes to build on heading into the second race of the season at Sepang in Malaysia next weekend.

“The important thing is that we have a car that we can really work with and the team have done a fantastic job to get us to this position,” he said.

“Now we’ll look forward to Malaysia and hopefully build on this positive start with an improved performance.”

Team principal Ross Brawn said there was much to be gleaned from the team’s opening performance in Melbourne.

“If we can put the pieces of the puzzle together, we have the ingredients to race well,” Brawn said.

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