Chinese Grand Prix: 'We can't have any excuses,' says Lewis Hamilton

    Lewis Hamilton: Shanghai is a must-win race
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    (CNN)As he plays catch up to Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton says he isn't worried, but he has told his Mercedes team that a win in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix is imperative.

    "I texted my engineer Bono and said we need to win this weekend, we can't have any excuses, we've got to somehow pull together, go leaps and bounds to make sure we finish ahead of Ferrari, so I believe that we can do that," Hamilton told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies.
    The Formula One season is just a matter of weeks old, but with a second place finish in Australia and third place in Bahrain, the reigning champion has slipped to an early 17-point deficit to perennial rival Vettel.
      The Mercedes cars, driven by Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas, have so far struggled to match Ferrari in practice sessions but their prospects looked to have improved in China.
      During practice in Shanghai, Hamilton finished fastest at the end of Friday's second session, though just a tenth of a second separates all four Mercedes and Ferrari drivers.
      "This (Chinese Grand Prix) is the third race so I don't have any worries, that's a weakness that an athlete can never allow to enter their mind," added Hamilton.
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      "So I'm not worried at all, I just know that I have to work hard, keep working harder, building on the rapport of my team.
      "We've got the team, we have the abilities and capabilities, it's just about putting our minds to it and pulling together."

      'A lot of points lost'

      Vettel claimed top spot on the podium in both Australia and Bahrain, with Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen finishing third and retiring, respectively, following the incident in which a team mechanic broke his leg.
      Despite the German's lead, Hamilton was bullish about his prospects this season as he chases a fifth world title.
      Now in his 12th season as a Formula One driver, the 33-year-old Briton is well aware of the twists and turns that may lie ahead.
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      "I definitely don't get excited with the results that we've had but I definitely reflect on them being strong races, but a lot of points lost," Hamilton says of his performances so far this season
      "But also I know in my mind that okay, there are 19 races to go. I want to win the next 19 races so you always turn it around. I'm definitely not one that likes losing, I've never made that a secret.
      "I don't think many people like losing and there's people that handle it different ways than others. I'm comfortable with the way that I handle it but I am able to turn it into a positive into my next challenge."
      China, both the fans and the track, have been kind to Hamilton over the years with the Brit winning on five occasions since 2008, including victory last year.
      However, it was heartbreak in Shanghai in 2007 which Hamilton really credits for shaping him into the competitor he is today, where retirement in the penultimate race of the season saw the Brit miss out on the drivers' world title by one point to Räikkönen.
      "I remember it back here in 2007, it was unbearable the loss of the world whampionship here -- the race after qualifying on pole and leading the Grand Prix (in Japan).
      "So the mindset, the strength in which I have now, I wish I had then because it would have changed my life I would imagine back then."
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      'It's sweet'

      Being a global superstar, Hamilton has grown accustomed to the royal welcome he receives from fans all over the world.
      But even so, the enthusiasm of the fans in China still catches him off-guard.
      "When I arrive here, I come out of the customs and as soon as the door opens, I can't believe how many fans there are and British flags," he says.
      "They're always so energetic and always excited that I'm there and I get to the hotel and, somehow, most often they've beaten me to the hotel! And how they know where I was going, I don't know?!
      "It's the same as I get back from a day like today and it's almost a team of them -- there will be a group here and a group back at the hotel and they're coordinating: 'okay, he's left' and there will be a group there at the restaurant ... it's sweet!"