Hamilton hunts for points in Melbourne

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After disappointing results during winter testing, McLaren responded by going back to the drawing board. The exhaust system had given them the biggest headaches in the preceding weeks, which is why, according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh, they decided on a much simpler solution for the Australia Grand Prix.

And the strategy appears to have paid off as by the end of second practice in Melbourne, both McLarens occupied the top two positions.

Lewis Hamilton, who came in behind team-mate Jenson Button, likes the way the MP4-26 is now kitted out

"The car feels better, but I don't want to worry too much about the performance of the other teams," he said, adding. "We've been too engrossed in our own programme the whole day."

What struck Hamilton – and some of the other drivers – was that tyre wear on the new Pirellis was not as bad as expected.

The 2008-world champion was confident about Sunday's race. So far, McLaren haven't figured among the hot favourites to win, but according to Hamilton, being in the points was a definite possibility.

"All being well, we can come away with a couple of points – I feel very positive. The level of grip today has improved considerably. We don't know how much fuel the other teams will be carrying, but our car now feels much better compared to the previous few weeks."