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Hamilton gears up for Vettel title fight

Hamilton gears up for Vettel title fight

If you followed the longest Formula 1 season previous year, you'll already know how different the sport is expected to be this time.

At the time, the confident adolescent boasted that within five years he would be driving a Formula One vehicle that would allow him to win the world title.

Mercedes picked Valtteri Bottas from Williams to replace Rosberg when the world champion made his shock decision to retire at the end of 2016. I have been out on track watching them and, next to the previous generation of cars, these are properly spectacular cars. So what's new in 2017? The rear wing, on the other hand, has become shorter and narrower to produce the opposite effect. The Spaniard's McLaren team are in crisis after a awful pre-season campaign blighted by an uncompetitive and unreliable Honda engine.

Auto and tyre widths have been increased, among other moves, tipped to bring more speed.

Were the teams as happy implementing the new parts? In testing we managed to work well as a team and there was a good team spirit the whole time.

"No team has won back-to-back through rule regulation changes so that is our goal as a team", Hamilton told reporters on Thursday. A tough fight between the mid-field teams also means that predicting finishing positions sixth or seventh place onwards poses an interesting challenge.

"But we need this guy to have a good auto so that he can get up there and fight with us", acknowledged Hamilton.

Hamilton played down the absence of his world champion former team-mate Rosberg.

"So he's now going to make sure that he doesn't make the same mistake twice".

"(A win) would be the ideal way to start the season and my career with Mercedes.

If only Fernando Alonso could join in the fun too.

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Ten years after his F1 debut at Albert Park, Hamilton arrives at the downtown circuit as the leading light of a sport now under new management and featuring wider and faster cars.

Silverstone-based Sahara Force India, meanwhile, go into battle with a new-look team.

"As far as I know, there is only one offer on the table (that of Ferrari) that allows teams to participate in Formula 1".

The Briton, who is more familiar with the auto having spent the last four years with Mercedes, would have "a clear head start" to the season, but Bottas would "also fare well", Vatanen predicted.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo added: "When Red Bull were dominating [prior to 2014], everyone wanted to see someone else win".

"Ferrari aren't on the front foot themselves, particularly if they're not winning". A tense atmosphere in the Red Bull Racing garages does usually bear well for Formula 1. Ferrari showed good pace in testing.

He said: "I am really looking forward to getting the season underway".

As Sebastian Vettel closed up on Rosberg, the Mercedes driver's engineer reminded him he only needed third to win the championship.

"I don't agree with that one", Hamilton said of Alonso's wish.

"And I just did straightaway - let him past".

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