Lewis Hamilton says the battle for supremacy in Formula 1 is “more exciting than ever” after enjoying a close fight with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel for pole position in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Three-time champion Hamilton has led Mercedes’ dominance of F1 since the introduction of V6 turbo hybrids in 2014, with the German marque winning every title available in the past three seasons.
Hamilton spent much of the time fighting solely against teammate Nico Rosberg, with rival teams unable to pose a serious threat to Mercedes.
Following an overhaul of the technical regulations for 2017, Ferrari has emerged as a contender at the front of the pack once again, with Vettel beating Hamilton in a straight fight at the opening race of the year in Australia.
Hamilton and Vettel faced off once again for pole in China on Saturday, with the Briton emerging victorious by less than two-tenths of a second. It marked his sixth consecutive pole position, and was also his sixth in China.
“The Ferraris have looked so fast through practice this morning and each qualifying session so we knew it was going to be close, and it would mean we’d have to pull out all the stops and really have a perfect lap, a solid lap,” Hamilton said after qualifying.
“I managed to just chip away at it from session to session, no major issues. My last lap was my best lap which is always the play. Sometimes it’s in another session. The lap started off not as good as perhaps Q1’s first lap, but the rest of the lap got better and better. I think it may have been tire temperatures or something, who knows.
“[It] felt strong, and then obviously coming into the last corner knowing I’m up a couple of tenths, it’s always nervous coming into Turn 14 because you want to brake late and gain some, but you don’t want to lose everything you’ve gained, and do the last corner, coming across the line, and then just waiting after that to see what everyone else had done. These guys were behind still finishing off their laps.”
Hamilton gave his thanks to his Mercedes team, saying its efforts were more crucial than ever during the fight against Ferrari, something he relishes.
“Very, very happy, super grateful for the huge efforts the team have put in to keep us in the fight. It’s more exciting than ever for me because we’re really fighting these guys,” Hamilton said.
“It’s amazing, and I think that’s what racing is all about. It really pushes you to have to raise the bar every time you head out which I love.”