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Rediff.com  » Sports » F1 Pit lane Tales: Hamilton says critical Rosberg trying to get 'headlines'

F1 Pit lane Tales: Hamilton says critical Rosberg trying to get 'headlines'

March 22, 2018 15:46 IST

Lewis Hamilton

IMAGE: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel during the press conference. Photograph: Brandon Malone/Reuters

Lewis Hamilton has dismissed criticism from former Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg as the product of someone seeking 'headlines'.

 

Rosberg, who beat Hamilton to the 2016 world championship before retiring, told Sky Sports this week that the Briton was 'almost unbeatable' when on song but his 'weakness' was a 'bit of inconsistency'.

Hamilton, whose long-standing relationship with Rosberg grew strained during their four years together at the Silver Arrows, viewed the German's remarks dimly three days before Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"I think I've proved that that's not the case last year," champion Hamilton told reporters at the pre-race news conference on Thursday, referring to his nine wins on the way to the 2017 title.

"I think there's a lot of people who need to get headlines and that's one way of doing it."

"The goal this year is to be even more consistent than last year. I think consistency is the main reason I won the world championship last year."

Hamilton conceded the early running in the 2017 title race to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel before the German's challenge fell away in the second half of the season.

The Briton is favourite to win a fifth title and draw level with Juan Manuel Fangio, who is second on the all-time list behind Michael Schumacher's seven championships.

Although 33 and having admitted to thinking about life after racing during the last campaign, Hamilton felt he had yet to reach the peak of his powers.

"I hope not," said Hamilton, who made his Formula One debut for McLaren at Albert Park in 2007 and won at the lakeside circuit in 2008 and 2015.

"I'm sure there is a peak for a driver when their fitness level gets harder to reach the fitness level that we do today," he added.

"When your interest starts to decline and your drive starts to decline, I guess that's when you're over your peak but I definitely feel I'm not at that (stage).

"I'm definitely in a good range right now and that's where I need to continue to try to extract the most I can."

Hamilton, Vettel savour competing against the 'best'

The tension of a rivalry that produced 'road rage' and acrimony between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in 2017 was absent on Thursday as the four-times Formula One champions made nice before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

This year marks the first ever in the series that two quadruple champions go wheel-to-wheel and their battle to join Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles will be a talking point throughout the season.

Mutual respect was traded in for resentment last year when the pair bumped wheels at an explosive Azerbaijan Grand Prix, prompting an angry outburst from Mercedes' Hamilton.

Fans will hope passions are high when the pair face off at Albert Park on Sunday and can remain so through a proper season-long tussle.

At the year's first pre-race news conference, however, they staged little more than a mutual appreciation society when comparing their challenges, trading smiles and light-hearted banter while sitting side-by-side.

"When you come to the end of your career you want to know that you're competing against the best," said reigning champion Hamilton, who overhauled Ferrari's Vettel last year to claim his third title with Mercedes.

"There are those that bow out early, those that have one championship maybe, that has not been as competitive and the ultimate goal to be the best is that you're going to have to go up against the best.

"It's great because it's been a great experience for me to be able to race Sebastian.

"He's got the four world titles, had the most of any other driver at the time and I think this is an exciting year for Formula One fans being that we have two four-time world champions battling it out."

German Vettel, who took four consecutive titles for Red Bull from 2010-13, was similarly generous to the driver he shook his fist at in a rage at Baku last year when he claimed the Briton had brake-tested him before their clash of wheels on track.

"He's done a very good job for many years now," the 30-year-old said. "In my case, if I look at people I raced throughout my career then you care about what it means to you and it gives you more satisfaction.

"And now I am searching for the ultimate satisfaction to win with Ferrari, which is the greatest team in history, greatest team in the paddock.

"That's my ultimate target now, win for Ferrari and win against the best, which arguably Lewis is one of them."

Barring their racing pedigree, the pair share little in common, with Hamilton's high-profile social life at odds with Vettel's fierce protection of his privacy.

However, they agreed that matching Fangio, whose record of five titles is second only to Michael Schumacher's seven, was the last thing on their minds.

"I've not (thought about it), honestly," shrugged Hamilton.

For Vettel, there was no point in thinking 'what if'.

"I think nowadays the times are different, they are very different times to what Fangio achieved," he added.

"Every era has its own challenges."

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