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Hamilton expecting close fight

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 21-03-2016
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Lewis Hamilton is expecting a closer fight with Ferrari this season and has downplayed the significance of not winning the opening race in Australia. 

Despite being on top in every practice session and in qualifying, Hamilton lost out team-mate Nico Rosberg after a poor start in Melbourne.

The world champion did finish second, but it could have been worse as Ferrari looked stronger during the race than in qualifying, but blew their chances of victory with a strategy error.

"Ferrari's overall race pace, I was never really around them, but I thought they looked quite quick," said Hamilton.

"They were on a different tyre to me on a different strategy, so he looked quick at the end. Hopefully we are going to have more close races like that going forward, but I don't think Nico had trouble staying behind him on the medium tyres when he was on the supersofts.

"I've a really good feeling about my pace, you've seen all weekend that I was ahead. But I am hoping it is going to be a good battle. There are going to be races where we are five to 10 seconds ahead and races where we will be wheel-to-wheel."

Hamilton's thoughts were echoed by Sky Sports F1's Damon Hill who believes Ferrari could be a real threat in 2016.

"I think it will be more than a two driver fight for the title, I think Ferrari are close enough and a lot closer now than they were last year at this stage. If they get more horsepower, Red Bull could be a threat," Hill told Sky Sports News HQ.

It was the first race with new regulations limiting the drivers to just one clutch for the start. In the past they could drop once clutch at lights out to start the car moving, before gently feeding in a second, but this year drivers have just one paddle to control the cars clutch.

Hamilton made a poor getaway from pole and that saw him drop as low as seventh on the opening lap.

"I just got wheel spin, so no particular real issues," the Mercedes driver said.

"The Ferraris were very, very strong, my initial phase was the same as Nico's, but the second part where you release the clutch fully I had wheel spin and didn't recover from it."

That mistake cost Hamilton seven points in his fight with Rosberg, but he has downplayed the significance having won the title in 2014 despite not even finishing the first race.

"The longer the season they make it the less important one race becomes," he said.

"We have 20 races from here so there is a long, long way to go. I just look at 2014, I was 25 points down from here, so this is a blessing, seven points behind and I am really happy."

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