Lewis Hamilton: 'Mercedes, are the title (contenders) ... at least, at the moment, but there’s such a long way to go.' – EPA Photo
SEPANG: For the second weekend in a row, Mercedes have dominated from practice to race day and they are now seen as capable contenders for the world title.
Mercedes may have the best competitive package among the F1 teams but their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have cautioned against taking their foot off the pedal, saying it is still early in the season.
Rosberg won by a margin of 24,5 seconds in the season opening race in Melbourne two weeks earlier and on Sunday in Sepang, it was Hamilton’s turn to carve out a dominant Petronas Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix victory from pole position with Rosberg following behind for second.
It was the first 1-2 finish for Mercedes in the modern era and his first win in Malaysia in eight outings.
At the post-race press conference, when asked whether he, Rosberg and world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. who finished third, are the trio contending for the world title, Hamilton replied: “Mercedes, are the title (contenders) ... at least, at the moment, but there’s such a long way to go.
“We’ve got a lot of competition out there. I’m sure everyone’s going to be pushing, so we need to stay on it,” said Hamilton, who on his part, was just relieved to get the monkey off his back after four pole position starts at Sepang, including Sunday.
“I am incredibly happy. My first time. It’s my eighth year here and finally I got that win. I really just owe it all to the team.
“(They) did a fantastic job, the guys back at the factory pushing non-stop to get the car to where it is, and of course to do it on Petronas ... on our home ground.
“To get a one-two ... it’s quite special when you get a one-two. I’ve not had many in my career so that makes it even more special,” he said.
Rosberg, who is now the current championship leader on 43 points – 18 more than second-placed Hamilton, is pleased but does not want to get distracted by it.
“That sounds very good as it is but there’s a long way to go. I’m not thinking about that at the moment, I’m really just taking it race by race, just enjoying the moment, making the most of it.
“The best example is now Red Bull. The last day of testing was four or three weeks ago and they were absolutely nowhere and now he (Vettel) was right in the back of me, pushing me,” said Rosberg.
Vettel admited they are like everyone else, trying to catch up at the moment.
“At some stage it looked like we were pretty evenly matched but then it’s like he found another gear, he was pulling away.
“In the end I was just trying to get the car home. All in all, it’s good to get another podium after team-mate Daniel (Ricciardo) was on the podium in Australia (but was later disqualified).”