Chinese Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says he’s relishing the chance to compete for the 2017 championship against Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.
Following a victory for the Vettel-Ferrari partnership in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton fought back to take victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Whilst Hamilton was able to profit from an early safety car deployment to maintain his lead, Vettel was forced to overtake team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen to claim second place.
Hamilton conceded afterwards that the pace between himself and Vettel was close and that the fight for victory may have been closer without the safety car.
“From the get-go I felt I had the pace to control the race from the front,” Lewis explained. “But if it wasn’t for the Safety Car it would have been a flat-chat race against Sebastian with just a couple of seconds between us the whole race, probably.
“We were very close in lap time but the team did the right job in terms of reacting to the scenarios. Sebastian was unfortunate and I didn’t really understand what was going on behind because I had the Red Bulls there and the Ferraris weren’t getting past.
“At that time I was quite chilled – but later, when Sebastian got behind, we had a real race on our hands, although I had a good gap.”
The pace of both teams in China underlines the prediction that this year’s championships will be contested by the two teams, something which Hamilton is hoping to be a ‘satisfying’ battle.
“It really is great to win against Sebastian, a four-time World Champion at his best who is phenomenally quick. And also with Ferrari at their best in a decade, I think. We are at our best as a team too, and I feel like I’m at my best.
“The ultimate fighter always wants the best battle because when you come out on top it’s so much more satisfying. I’m loving this fight!”
At the early stages of the drivers’ championship, both Hamilton and Vettel are tied on 43 points, whilst Mercedes lead the constructors’ championship by one point.