LEWIS HAMILTON leapt to the top of the F1 leaderboard after claiming third place in a thrilling China Grand Prix.
Hamilton leads the standings by two points from McLaren team-mate Jenson Button who finished second in Shanghai behind race leader Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg finished 20.6 seconds clear of Button, with Hamilton 5.3 secs further back at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Hamilton’s podium finish was all the more impressive as he started from seventh after suffering a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
The McLaren two-three completed a stunning weekend for Woking sport after the Cards clinched the Blue Square South title and promotion to the top-tier of non-league football
It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship – but we’ve got to remain focused. I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come
Rosberg took the chequered flag for the first time in his F1 career to give Mercedes their first victory since Juan Manuel Fangio way back in 1955.
Hamilton said: “I had a great race. And, although neither Jenson nor I was sadly able to win, I’m really happy that Nico took his first win today, but I’m also really pleased for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. Both Jenson and I were able to get back on the podium and score some more good points.
“It was a tough race, though. I’d love to have been able to challenge Nico, and I think maybe I’d have been able to if I’d started on the front row, but we still managed to move forwards from the start I had a lot of fun overtaking people too. I reckon I got everything out of the car that I possibly could.
“It’s also a major positive to know that we’ve got a very consistent car. We just have to make sure we keep moving forwards, that’s all. Mercedes AMG, Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber are all up there – that’s a serious championship and it’s going to make for great racing for the fans to watch.
After three successive third-place finishes in Australia, Malaysia, and now, China, Hamilton added: “It’s been a while since I was at the top of the drivers’ world championship – but we’ve got to remain focused. I think if I just continue to work as I am then the wins will surely come, and I’ll keep pushing for some better results in the future.”
Button said: “Congratulations to Nico today – he drove a faultless race. But who knows what we could have achieved if we’d had a clear run at him in the final stint?
“Our pace was very good and the aim was to come out ahead of that following pack of cars – which we would have done if we hadn’t lost time in the pitstop – and chase him down and put him under pressure.
“The delay in the final stop was just one of those things though – all the other stops had been very strong this weekend, but that one in particular wasn’t. The delay pushed me back into the traffic, which was a little bit of a shock, but the pace and consistency are there in the car and I was able to get back into second position, after a good battle and a satisfying pass on Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s disappointing not to have been able to challenge for the win, but it was a fun race with tons of overtaking and lots of battling. More important, it’s been a great day for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes because we’re now leading both world championships.
“It’s very important to be consistent, and it’s nice to be back on the podium, but there are just a couple of little things we need to improve upon to make life even better for ourselves.”