Hamilton: I’m going to be a machine this year

Lewis Hamilton has warned rivals that he plans to be better than ever as he chases a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 World Championship title this season.

The 35-year-old Mercedes driver posted a picture on Instagram of himself at home, hugging a wooden pillar and smiling.

He wrote: “I never could have even dreamed to own a home like the one I do now. I thank God every day for giving me a family that worked so hard to give me the chance to make something of myself.

“And to own a home that I love so much, get to create so many wonderful memories brings me more happiness than I ever thought I could deserve. I am at peace when I’m here, can focus and build my mind and body so that I can come back year on year.

“I’m going to be a machine this year, on another level than ever before! Spread love and positivity everywhere we go.”

The Briton won 11 races last year and has averaged 10 victories a season since the start of the V6 turbo hybrid era in 2014.

The opening race is in Australia on March 15 and Hamilton starts the campaign with 84 career wins, seven short of F1 legend Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 91.

Mercedes started last season by winning the first eight races, ending the championship, as a contest, long before the season ended.

Schumacher also holds the record of seven titles, five with Ferrari and two with Benetton, while Hamilton has won five of his six with Mercedes and one with McLaren.

Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the 2020 season and has had talks with Ferrari, although the champion looks more likely to stay with Mercedes now that the Italian team have committed long-term to Monegasque youngster Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull have also signed a deal which means that Max Verstappen will be in Blue until the end of 2023.

With stable rules and similar tyres to last year, hopes are high of an epic battle between Hamilton at the peak of his powers and the young guns vying to topple him.