Hamilton enjoying 'favourite battle' in F1

Hamilton enjoying 'favourite battle' in F1

19 May 2017 – Lewis Hamilton says his developing duel with Sebastian Vettel for the 2017 title is "one of my favourites, if not my favourite battle" in Formula 1 so far, the pair taking two wins apiece from the first five races.

Vettel, who won in Australia and Bahrain, holds a six-point lead over Hamilton, who won in China and Spain, with the other race – in Russia – won by Hamilton's new team-mate, Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton has been involved in a number of title fights since arriving in F1, narrowly missing out to Kimi Räikkönen in his debut 2007 season, before pipping Felipe Massa to the crown in 2008.

After a lean period, Hamilton switched from McLaren to Mercedes and went head-to-head with Nico Rosberg for three seasons, adding titles in 2014 and 2015, and finishing runner-up in 2016.

Hamilton and Vettel have started the 2017 campaign as title favourites, with Mercedes and Ferrari closely matched, and had a wheel-to-wheel scrap in Barcelona last time out.

Asked to compare his current fight with Vettel to previous years, Hamilton commented: "It's definitely one of my favourites, if not my favourite battle.

"I've got a really bad memory, so I don't remember all of the battles, to be honest, but what I can definitely say is, [compared to] last year, I'm in a much better position.

"Having a battle, having a fight with another team, it's just so much nicer, it's so much more enjoyable, [also] because there's no tension within our team."

Hamilton, who started from pole position in Spain, was jumped by Vettel off the line, before using an alternate strategy to regain the lead, via a skirmish at Turn 1.

Vettel emerged from his final pit-stop just ahead of Hamilton, forcing the Briton onto the run-off, but was powerless to prevent a DRS-assisted attack a few laps later.

Asked if he expects the dynamic to change as the season progresses, Hamilton said: "We had a very close battle, and if it had gone in a different direction, it would have been different.

"If he had hit me at Turn 1, I didn't finish the race and he won the race, I'm not going to be like, 'Great job, Sebastian'. It was aggressive, but I was still able to remain in the fight and avoid it.

"I think he was respectful, and that respect I think stayed the same, but you could sense that he was angry.

"We're never going to be happy finishing second; if he finished second and was happy, I'd be concerned, because that's not what we exist to do."

Although a win at the Monaco Grand Prix would guarantee that Hamilton leaves with the title lead, he made clear that consistency is his focus through 2017.

"In my mind, it's not the most important thing," he said, when asked about winning in Monte-Carlo.

"You can get ahead for one race and then go behind the next, so for me, it's about trying to perform as I have [in Spain] at every single race that we have left, the 15 races we have left.

"It doesn't matter if I'm leading the championship after the next race, what matters is leading the championship after the last race – that's my thought process."

See also: Hamilton vs Vettel – F1's long-awaited rivalry

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