Chinese Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton is convinced that Ferrari are at their best after a couple of years in the doldrums and is anticipating the a very close fight with Sebastian Vettel for the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship title.
Speaking after his ‘grand slam’ win in Shanghai, Hamilton said, “It’s going to be one of the closest, if not the closest, fights I’ve experienced. I’m looking forward to the battle.”
“For me what’s so exciting is knowing that I’m fighting against such a great driver. Ferrari are at their best, I think we are at our best, Sebastian’s at his best and I feel I’m at my best.”
“So there will be days where we’re up and down – like in Melbourne where he did the better job and I acknowledged that. And then we came here and he said I did the better job and he acknowledged that. That’s a great respect to have with another champion.”
The big question is where Ferrari have the advantage over Mercedes, and vice versa.
“It’s a little bit difficult. So far the only info I have is that Melbourne was warm, and being on a hotter track Ferrari was stronger.”
“Our car is longer, so when we get to Monaco I don’t know how I’m going to get my car around some of those very, very tight corners. Then at the longer faster circuits like Suzuka I think we’re going to be in a real strong position.”
“Through the year we’ll get a better understanding. When we go to the next race [in Bahrain], next weekend, it’s a hotter circuit – will we still be able to maintain the tyre temperature like we did today at a cooler track?”
Hamilton and Vettel have two poles and two wins each in Bahrain.
Vettel, a four times F1 World Champion, is also relishing the contest, “It would be great news for us – they [Mercedes] are the ones to beat. They have a very, very strong team and have done really well in the last couple of years, smashing a lot of records and being flawless without any mistakes really.”
“So for us I think it’s great news that we had another race where we were really close and were able to put some pressure on,” said the Ferrari driver with reference to the second place he scored in China, two weeks after triumphing at the season opener in Australia.
Vettel and Hamilton head to the Bahrain Grand Prix tied for points with 43 points apiece, while Mercedes heads the Constructors’ standings by a single point.