During the winter tests, McLaren found themselves fighting a campaign on multiple fronts, as the MP4-26 was neither reliable nor really fast. But with a radically redesigned exhaust, McLaren have managed to turn around their fortunes in Australia. Lewis Hamilton put the car on the front row in qualifying and finished the race as runner-up.
"We can definitely be proud of this result," said Hamilton. "The guys did a great job. One or two weeks ago, we didn't expect to be anywhere near the Top 5. So finishing second and having the reliability of the cars confirmed is a very satisfying outcome."
All things considered, this was not the most straightforward of races for the McLaren driver. After spinning off onto the grass on lap 33, Hamilton had to drive the rest of the race with a severely compromised floor pan. "Various components on the floor were badly damaged. I lost a lot of downforce, so from then on, it was really a case of nursing the car home." From his perspective, though, it was important to score points: "I knew how vital they could be later on in the season."
Hamilton revealed that KERS had been a big help in shaking off the challenge from Mark Webber at the start. "The tyres were spinning on the grid, which meant I couldn't keep up with Sebastian. But thanks to KERS, I was at least able to defend my second position."