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Hamilton happy with steady progress

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was happy to qualify ninth on the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after the torrid times he had in Australia and Malaysia.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2009 13:42 IST

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was happy to qualify ninth on the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after the torrid times he had in Australia and Malaysia.

It was the first time this season he had made it through to the top 10 shootout.

"It's good to be in the top 10 and I am satisfied because we are making progress. It is a step forward," said the Briton.

"We want to be through to Q3 and we want to be moving forwards and we are doing that step by step. The team are working very hard not only here but back at base in England.

"I want them to know how grateful I am because every little bit we put on the car to improve it really counts. We are doing the job bit by bit to get back to the front."

Hamilton's roller-coaster season saw him stripped of his points in Australia where he came home fourth, was awarded third after an inquiry and then demoted when it was revealed he and McLaren misled the stewards.

In Malaysia he was surrounded by controversy and media investigations into his relationship with his team but managed to finish seventh, a result he hopes to improve on this weekend.

"Let's just see what happens," he said.

"We are here to race, we are all doing our best and working as hard as we can. That is what it is all about."

The departure from Formula One of his mentor and long-serving McLaren chief Ron Dennis was announced on Thursday.

Hamilton said he was surprised at the timing, but not sad for Dennis who, he said, would relish his new challenge of building up a McLaren sportscar business.

Hamilton's car was running with several new components here including an interim diffuser, following the settling of the row over the diffusers used by Brawn, Williams and Toyota in the opening races.