Lewis Hamilton relishing battle as Sebastian Vettel wins opener

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel - New rivals? "It's been a great weekend for us as a team, but just in the race [I had] trouble with the tyres towards the end", he said.

And the Italian team appear to have lofty ambitions to match the four-time world champion's own ones.

"At least we have a great driver in Sebastian with his four titles, [who had] an incredible surge into Formula 1, continues to be a force and will continue to be for many years to come".

"That was obviously crucial for our race, I tried to push for as hard as I could for the one or two Max was still out to open a bit of a gap and control the race". It shows we are going to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have.

In truth, Vettel never looked like giving up the lead once he had pinched it from Hamilton. "I have great respect for Lewis", he said.

"I want to win the championship more than ever and for those who think that my hunger cannot be more intense than previous year, I want to tell them that it has doubled".

Vettel said- "We say this all the time, what this team has done in the last six months has been really tough".

Despite the strategy misjudgement, Hamilton believes staying out longer on his Pirelli ultra-soft tyres was not an option. "He's proven to be one of the quickest drivers on the grid".

"I had to stop a lot earlier.so I just ran out of grip". This trend started in Australia, where Vettel was leading and Ferrari opted not to take advantage of a red flag, sending the German back out on old rubber, ultimately costing him the victory.

Hamilton started from the front but failed to convert his pole position into a victory after he was leapfrogged by Vettel at the first and only round of pit stops.

Although the telling point in the race came when Vettel pitted and was able to beat Verstappen when returning to the course, and as a result, he kept his lead and from then on only went further ahead as the race progressed.

"After that I tried to keep the pressure on, to make sure they get the message that we are here, here to fight".

Vettel, who now has 43 race wins compared to Hamilton's 53, agrees.

"I wish we could race a lot closer in the cars that we have today but still I think the fact that we are similar pace-wise, it's going to be a very, very hard slog this season".

"I executed a strategy".

  • Julie Sanders