KUALA LUMPUR // The result was identical, but the demeanour was vastly different. Lewis Hamilton started on pole only to finish third for the second successive weekend at yesterday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
The McLaren-Mercedes driver had experienced the same fate at the season-opening race in Australia last week and appeared afterwards sullen, stroppy and bitterly disappointed. At Sepang International Circuit, however, he announced himself "satisfied", despite finishing behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Sauber driver Sergio Perez.
"Yeah, of course we would have liked to have more points this weekend, but I guess I can't really complain," said Hamilton, who now sits second in the world championship standings. "I'm on the podium for second week in a row so I'm pretty happy. I feel fortunate that I was able to stay out of trouble with the conditions changing constantly."
Monsoon rains wreaked havoc on the second race of the year, with action being suspended for 51 minutes before reconvening with a sodden track and further threats of rain. When pressed on his contrasting countenances, Hamilton explained that he had lowered his expectations when the heavens opened.
"I wouldn't say I was happy with third - I can never be happy with going backwards, but it's really just due to the conditions," he said.
Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button had looked set for a strong showing, but he collided with Hispania's Narain Karthikeyan shortly after the re-start and found himself at the back of the field. The 2009 world champion accepted full responsibility for the accident.
"It was a pretty difficult day; pretty much everything that could have gone wrong in the race did go wrong," he said. "It's just one of those things; a lot of my issues were brought on when I wiped my front wing off at the start. I locked up the rears, couldn't slow the car down and hit Karthikeyan, which was a bit frustrating."