Lewis Hamilton hits back at critics who doubted logic of his Mercedes switch
Briton claims sceptics "don't know what they're talking about"
By William Esler
Last Updated: 21/03/13 7:10am
Many seasoned observers, including some legendary ex-drivers such as triple-World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, publicly doubted the wisdom of 28-year-old's decision to leave his long-time McLaren home at the end of last season for Mercedes, given his new team had failed to establish themselves as consistent frontrunners in their first three years back in team ownership.
However, while Hamilton himself has repeatedly played down what they can achieve in their first year together, the new combination has started far more competitively than many had anticipated after Mercedes set the pace right at the end of testing and Hamilton qualified third, and then finished a promising fifth in the race, at the season-opener in Melbourne.
With his old employers in turn struggling badly at the start of the new campaign, verdicts on Hamilton's move have, if anything, lurched dramatically the other way in recent weeks - and the sea change in opinion has not been lost on the 2008 World Champion himself.
"It's nice to prove people wrong," Hamilton was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
"It has been everyone, particularly all the ex-drivers commenting that it was the worst decision ever. They said: 'He's going to finish nowhere, they're going to be nowhere.' And then they contradicted themselves, going the other way.
"They don't know what they're talking about. They're either this way or that, when the truth is the bit in the middle."
While Hamilton has consistently tried to manage expectations since arriving at Brackley, the 28-year-old insists that at no stage did he suggest the W04 would be completely off the pace in 2013 either.
Nonetheless, he admits they still weren't expecting to be quite as strong as they were at Albert Park - and that he actually thinks they could have achieved an even better result.
"We didn't ever come out and say: 'We'll kick everyone's butt,' but we never said that we would be c**p, either," Hamilton explained.
"The team have done well, I'm really proud of my team. I'm proud of my decision as well. For all of us, we were not expecting to be competing where we were.
"But we could have done better. We definitely had the capability to do better, it's just that some things didn't play into our hands. We still take a lot out of the race, we're positive, and for the next race (in Malaysia on Sunday) we will be even stronger.
"We have a good development platform now, and I am really, really happy with the result."
As a permanent venue, the Sepang circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur should provide a better representation of the true pecking order in 2013 than the streets of Albert Park and Hamilton thinks they can do even better this weekend.
"Our understanding of the tyres has improved," he added.
"For the next race I think that we will be much stronger - we have a good development platform. I'm really happy with that first result. We can use the ten points as a base. Everyone was talking us down but I hope this is the beginning of better things.
"I definitely feel that the team are flat out - they are on it. We're moving in the right direction and we have some bits coming that I hope can allow us to make the next step."