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Lewis Hamilton happy with fifth place on his debut for Mercedes in the Australian GP

But Lewis baffled by loss of position at Albert Park

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 17/03/13 11:29am

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Lewis Hamilton says his fifth-placed finish was better than the Mercedes team had hoped for in Australia.

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Lewis Hamilton has described his fifth-place finish on his debut for Mercedes in Sunday's Australian GP as a "great place to start" - but admitted to being baffled at losing so many places during the race.

Having qualified in an impressive third, Hamilton's loss of position to old foe Fernando Alonso at the third corner was countered by his Mercedes running an ultra-long first stint on the supersoft tyres.

At the halfway stage of the season-opening grand prix, Hamilton had appeared well set to claim a podium finish for his new employers, but after losing two places in as many laps to Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa, Hamilton reverted to a three-stop strategy which finally resulted in him claiming fifth from the long-running Adrian Sutil.

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"I think it's great, I'm very happy, it's way better than we ever expected in the first race of the season. It's a great place to start," the 2008 World Champion told Sky Sports F1.

Nonetheless, Hamilton's contentment was also tinged with regret and confusion.

"We're going to have to go back and take a look at why we were losing pace to other people, but I think the guys have done a great job to give us the pace we had. The car was feeling pretty good so I don't really understand why other people were pulling away," he added.

"Malaysia is going to be tough but hopefully we can have a better result. It's going to be tough with the tyres but I had a longer stint than anyone else, but I just don't know where we lost ground."

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