McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton says the team will concentrate on improving its qualifying performance for this weekend’s Formula One Australian Grand Prix as it seeks to close the gap on Ferrari and Red Bull.

Hamilton finished third in the season-opening race at Bahrain earlier this month where he qualified fourth, and despite his race pace being almost the same as Ferrari and Red Bull, he could not make up ground on those who started ahead of him.

“Clearly the most important thing for us is to get the qualifying sorted,” Hamilton said. “Qualifying position has even more impact than it has in the past.

“Its something we’re proactively doing.”

Hamilton has bad memories of the Australian race last year, when he was disqualified and it was later proven he and the team had lied to race stewards about a late overtaking move involving Jarno Trulli.

Hamilton later gave a tearful apology for his part in what became known as the “Lie-gate” scandal.

The Briton said he had grown from the experience.

“I am good friends with Nelson Mandela,” Hamilton said. “He is 92 and he still says he is always learning, so I have quite a bit of learning to do.”

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