Lewis Hamilton expects three-way fight for F1 supremacy in 2018

Lewis Hamilton expects three-way fight for F1 supremacy in 2018

Lewis Hamilton believes F1 2018 is set to play host to a “tougher battle” for supremacy between the sport’s ‘big three’ teams. The reigning World champion has vowed to continue raising his own level as he bids to become just the third driver to win five or more titles. Mercedes won more than half last year’s races but the season ended with little to choose between the leading three teams, as the world champions, Ferrari and Red Bull claimed one win apiece over the final three rounds.

While the competitive picture for 2018 will not start to be revealed until winter testing begins next week, Hamilton is anticipating the new campaign to start how the last finished. “You see the pictures [of the new cars] come out and the ones that have been posted are all very vague, you can’t really see the items they have on the car,” said Hamilton at Mercedes’ w09 launch.

“I haven’t even seen the red bull yet but last year when that turned up it had no [aero] furniture on it. Their development curve was quite steep, they were a second and a bit behind and then with us at the end. Given that we ended last season Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves very close, I anticipate this year we’ll be quite similar in that sense. So I think you’re going to see a tougher battle.”

Having previously expressed hope that his former team McLaren and former team-mate Fernando Alonso can return to front-running contention, Hamilton added: “who knows, maybe there will be another team. I’m not really aware of how McLaren are doing, but hopefully there are more in the mix and it’s tighter.”

Ferrari’s 2017 resurgence pitched Hamilton into a direct title duel with fellow four-time champion Sebastian Vettel for the first time, with several tense flashpoints asked if he expected tensions to rise still further with his rival in the new season, Hamilton said: “always expect for the worst and hopefully it will be better this year because it is going to be a closer season we have no idea what we’re going to face but what I can say is that last year was a positive year in respect of handling the different situations that I faced generally, over the last few years, I’ve been pretty good at handling it, so I should be even better this year. The real focus for me is performing at my best. Hopefully, if I’m performing at my best there will be issues because they’ll be upset about it!”

Despite perennial media murmurings over Hamilton’s F1 future, both the Englishman and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff indicated at the team’s launch that a new contract for the 33 year old beyond 2018 was imminent.Hamilton is now the third-oldest driver on the grid but says “the longest break I’ve had in 10 years” has left him feeling “great” and ready to tackle the new season.