Lewis Hamilton feels this season "could be a really special year" in light of Mercedes' crushing early-season form.

After setting the pace in testing and suggesting they were favourites for the titles, Mercedes lived up to the hype in the first grand prix in Australia earlier this month.

In changeable conditions in qualifying, Hamilton finished a third of a second quicker than nearest rival Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull.

Although a cylinder failed in the Mercedes engine to end Hamilton's race after just two laps, team-mate Nico Rosberg went on to blow away the opposition by 27 seconds around Melbourne's Albert Park to take an early championship lead.

Despite all within Mercedes playing down such performances, and these are of course very early days in the title race, Hamilton is aware of the potential within his car and he cannot help but be excited.

"In testing, initially because of the bad tyres, we had no grip and less downforce, so the car felt terrible when we first got in it," said Hamilton.

"But as you understood how to drive it, the feeling got better and better, although it's still not like we've got tonnes of grip like last year.

"Then to arrive at the first race, to be at the front, to be fighting, for Nico to be able to win with that pace, of course you feel, 'shoot, this could be a really special year'.

"The team have done an exceptional job. If you see what's going on back at the factory then you'll know why we are where we are.

"If you saw the great people we have, for me it's not a surprise we are where we are.

"Of course, you can never expect to have a 20-second lead. You would hope you can get a one or a five-second lead, or something like that, but not 20.

"I hope I can enjoy a lead like that. That's what we work for. (Sebastian) Vettel had the same kind of leads last year."

Hamilton and Mercedes know they are in a position where their rivals will hunt them down, but for now such a feeling of superiority is a dream for the 29-year-old.

"It is exactly that. It is exactly what you dream for," confirmed Hamilton.

"It is just one race, and I'm sure Renault (who power Red Bull among others) haven't turned their engine up to the max.

"They're still working on it, they've improvements to make. It's the same with Ferrari.

"I genuinely feel the Red Bull car is probably as fast as ours, and if they get their engine situation as good as ours...I don't think they will because Mercedes is the best.

"Ferrari also have a good car, so we can't sit back and think we don't have to do anything more for the year because these guys will be chasing."

Albert Park is an anomalous venue given its unusual location, so the feeling is the Sepang International Circuit that stages the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday will be more representative of what could unfold for the remainder of the campaign.

There is also the extreme heat of around 34 degrees centigrade and high humidity to contend with.

"This is the most extreme track for us," said Hamilton.

"Everyone is going to open up their cooling, everyone is going to be on the limit, and when you open up the cooling you lose performance.

"The engine is going to be on hardcore limit this weekend, and it's going to be a real test of durability.

"I hope we're at the top, and as I've not won here before I really hope I can do that, and that's what I'm here to do."

Despite the cylinder failure in Hamilton's engine in Melbourne, the team are to re-use it for practice on Friday to determine whether they have fixed the fault.

With each driver allowed just five complete power units per season - with the engine just one of its components - sustainability of the previously defective part will ensure Hamilton avoids a potential grid penalty further into the campaign.