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Hamilton hopes to be challenged by more winners in F1

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W09.
© XPB 

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says that he is hoping to see multiple race winners in the first Grands Prix of 2018.

"The more competition there is, the more fun it is to watch," the reigning world champion said this week. "I have grown up watching the sport, being a fan of it.

"The ultimate goal is that we hopefully have more teams fighting for the championship," he said.

"I think there was one year where had six different winners in the first six races, or whatever it was. That’s only good for the sport."

He was speaking at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after the end of pre-season testing. From what he's seen, Hamilton is expecting Red Bull to be right in the mix with Mercedes and Ferrari.

"I think Red Bull could be a real challenge this year," he said. "Their car looks great.

"I haven’t seen anything from what Ferrari have been doing, but for sure they’ll be good. It’s going to be exciting."

Hamilton set the fastest time of the first week of testing. However he and his team mate Valtteri Bottas were more focussed on long distance runs in the second week.

As a whole, the Mercedes drivers completed 1040 laps in pre-season testing. That compares to 929 for Ferrari and 783 for Red Bull.

"Our week has been very good, very productive, we got through everything we needed," he said. "Reliability has been fantastic and the car feels great.

"We haven’t been working on balance or anything like that," he added. "But in terms of some of the issues which we had last year, a lot of them - some of them at least - have been removed."

However, Hamilton said that recent track resurfacing work at Barcelona made it difficult to know exactly where all the teams stood.

"The track is a lot different to what it used to be," he commented. "It’s kind of misleading at the moment ... It’s difficult to know until we get to Melbourne."

The team is certainly keen not to get saddled with the early baggage of being declared title favourites, and was keen to underplay any advantage they might have at this point.

"We are definitely not a second ahead of the others," said Bottas, responding to reports that simulations show the W09 holding a big advantage in race pace this year.

"We still have issues with blistering on the softer compounds," the Finn cautioned. "Hopefully it will be different in Melbourne. But on the new track surface here in Barcelona we had some difficulties.

"We need to keep working for the week and a half before we travel to Melbourne. It will be interesting to find out where we will be."

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