Lewis Hamilton hails battle with Sebastian Vettel as his favourite ever fight in Formula 1
"Having a battle and a fight with another team is so much more enjoyable and nicer," says Lewis after win over Vettel in Spain
By Pete Gill at Barcelona
Last Updated: 15/05/17 2:31pm
Lewis Hamilton has described his 2017 duel with Sebastian Vettel as one of his favourite ever in Formula 1.
The Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, winners of seven of the last nine championships, look set for a season-long fight for this year's drivers' crown and are currently separated by a mere six points in the standings after Hamilton's thrilling victory in Sunday's Spanish GP.
"It's definitely one of the favourite, if not the favourite, battles I am having," said Hamilton. "Having a battle and a fight with another team is so much more enjoyable and nicer because there is no tension within our team."
For the previous three seasons, Hamilton was locked in an all-Mercedes fight for the Drivers' Championships with Nico Rosberg. But Ferrari and Mercedes have been evenly matched through the opening five rounds of the 2017 campaign and Hamilton's triumph at Barcelona on Sunday was in no small way due to new team-mate Valtteri Bottas deliberately holding up Vettel in order to boost the Silver Arrows' victory chances.
How Lewis Hamilton won a Barcelona classic
The story of how great driving, smart teamwork and clever strategy overcame Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari
"In the last race when Valtteri won, there wasn't an ounce of feeling in my heart of 'dammit, he won'," said Hamilton. "He did a great job and today Valtteri played a great role as a team-mate. He played an important role and it was a full team effort. We're fighting another team and it's a completely different feeling."
Hamilton won the race after overtaking Vettel with 22 laps remaining. The pair had already duelled for the lead seven laps earlier when the Ferrari emerged from its second and final pit-stop alongside the Mercedes into the first corner. As Vettel held his ground, Hamilton was forced to take avoiding action as he slithered over the run-off area.
"It was a very close battle," reflected Hamilton. "It was aggressive but I was able to stay in the fight - ultimately I avoided a collision. But I love a tough fight and I love a challenge. I think he was respectful and that respect stayed the same but today I could sense he was angry.
"We're never going to be happy finishing second. If he finished second and was happy then I would be concerned. That's not why we exist to do."
For the time being at least, and after surviving their near-miss at Turn One at Barcelona, the mutual admiration between Hamilton and Vettel is such that the Englishman felt moved to compare their rivalry to one of the most engrossing contests the world of sport has witnessed in recent times.
"I love tennis and I love watching Djokovic and Federer in finals. And what I really admire is their consistency - one misplaced shot or the ball into the net can mean the whole game - and their concentration. Today, I felt like l had that type of battle," Hamilton concluded.
"That's the only way I can describe it."
Don't miss the final word on the Spanish GP in the F1 Report on Wednesday at 8.30pm on Sky F1. Leading F1 journalist Peter Windsor joins Natalie Pinkham and Marc Priestley to look back at all the Barcelona action
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