Hamilton and Rosberg have spent the past three years of the hybrid formula slugging it out toe to toe for the drivers crown. Nico finally won one in 2016, after two previous years of Lewis dominance.
The 2017 opener last weekend in Australia, saw Ferraris Vettel take the top step for the first time since Singapore 2015. Hamilton was asked whether the four time champion Vettel, would prove to be his most difficult test yet.
“Definitely, definitely. I think this year we’re seeing the best drivers at the top.
“Obviously it would be great to have Fernando [Alonso] up there, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
“At least we have a great driver in Sebastian with his four titles, [who had] an incredible surge into Formula 1, continues to be a force and will continue to be for many years to come.
“I’m really grateful to have that fight with him, against Ferrari. It’s great.”
Hamilton and long time mate Nico, were often at odds with each other, as the pressure of the prize threatened harmony inside the Mercedes camp. This ultimately resulted in a couple of on-track battles which saw the two famously collide at the Spanish Grand last year.
Hamilton stopped short of comparing his fight with Vettel, to that of Rosberg.
“I haven’t had many races up against Sebastian but we’ve always had a respectful relationship,” he said.
“I think there’s a great amount of respect there between us and I’m sure that will continue to grow.”
Lewis also reiterated that his desire to succeed burned stronger than ever, despite the title defeat of last year.
“This winter I’ve done exactly what I’ve done every year,” he said when asked if his approach was more mature this year.
“It feels that people judge off things they see and, if you go to previous years, I arrived at the first race just as fit, I was on pole position for the last four years here.
“I always arrive fit and ready, none of those things I do are a distraction and I’ve done just as much this year.
“I had a fantastic fight the last few years and obviously last year was the closest I ever had but of course I want to win the world championship more than ever before.
“Whilst last year you would think that the hunger couldn’t be any more, it’s frickin’ doubled. I’m ready.”
So whilst Rosberg can’t stay away from the limelight after his championship win, Lewis can’t stop digging at his old rival.
When’s the next race? Can’t wait.