Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the 2017 Formula 1 championship competition he is having with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is probably his favourite.
The Mercedes driver triumphed in the Spanish Grand Prix after a thrilling contest with Vettel which included wheel banging, overtaking and the influence of strategy calls.
After five races, Vettel leads the championship by six points clear of Hamilton, each having taken two wins.
For Hamilton, who has spent the last three seasons fighting Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the title, he reckoned fighting a driver in a rival team, plus having a good relationship with teammate Valtteri Bottas, was making this championship fight one of his best.
“It’s definitely one of the favourites, if not the favourite [battle] I’m having,” said the three-time world champion. “I’m in a much better position than last year, so 2017 is a much better year so far.
“It’s great to have a battle. And a fight with another team is so much nicer and more enjoyable because there’s no tension within our team.
“In the last race when Valtteri won, there wasn’t an ounce of me that was like ‘damn it he won.'”
Hamilton says he sensed Vettel was angry after his Ferrari Formula 1 rival was defeated in Spain.
“I could sense he was angry, he said he was angry,” said Hamilton. “He drove a fantastic race but I can understand how he feels.
“We’re never going to be happy to finish second, and I’d be concerned if he was because that’s not what we exist for.”
When asked if the title battle with Vettel, whose lead was slashed to six points after Barcelona, would impact their relationship, Hamilton said: “I don’t know, it’s difficult to say.
“We just had a close battle and if it had gone a different direction then obviously it could be different. We know how racing goes, if he had hit me at Turn 1 and I didn’t finish the race and he did, it wouldn’t be “great job Sebastian!”
“It was aggressive but I was able to remain in the fight fortunately and I avoided a collision ultimately. We’ll have a tough fight and I love a challenge.
“He was respectful and that stayed the same even at the end.”