FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has already turned his attentions to next weekend’s 2012 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix after his podium finish in Australia.

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With the dust barely settled on Sunday’s season-opener in Melbourne, the F1 circus is heading to Kuala Lumpur for round two of the FIA World Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton, the 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire, lined up on pole position in Australia, but could only finish third behind team-mate Jenson Button and Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel.

This Sunday’s Sepang race gives the 2008 F1 world champion the perfect opportunity to bounce back.

Speaking after the season curtain-raiser, Hamilton said: “While it’s a bit disappointing not to have been able to convert pole position into victory, I’m not downhearted – there are still plenty of races ahead and lots more opportunities to score points.

“I’ll just re-focus now, get my head down and look to the next race.

“The world championships are all about consistency, so that’s what I’ll be aiming for.”

Meanwhile, McLaren colleague Button is on a high after taking the chequered flag around the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne for a third time.

He said: “There’s a huge amount of positives to take away from this weekend: we’ve got a great car and we can fight for the world championships.

“This is a perfect start to my season and I’m already looking forward to Malaysia.”

Despite claiming two podium spots in Australia, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh isn’t taking anything for granted.

He said: “We never under-estimate our opposition, and undoubtedly there’s a long hard road ahead of us between now and the end of the season.

“But we’ve started well, and in a few days’ time we’ll roll into Sepang, Malaysia, hungry to score a repeat victory.”

Bookies, however, already think the drivers’ championship will be a three horse race, with Vettel having regained favouritism with William Hill after capturing second place in Australia.

The two-time champion is 15/8 to win for the third year in a row, while Button is just behind at 2/1 with Hamilton 3/1.

Their next nearest competitor is then Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso at 18/1.

“After qualifying, we pushed Vettel out and were perhaps a bit hasty to do so, but one thing is for sure, he is not going to have it easy this season,” said Hill’s spokesman Joe Crilly.

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