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Lewis Hamilton grateful for Sebastian Vettel 'weaknesses' in 2017

"It is great to have seen some of the weaknesses come through this year," says championship leader

Lewis Hamilton says he is enjoying his battle with Sebastian Vettel more than ever, but admits it is "great to see some weaknesses" in the four-time world champion as the 2017 title battle intensifies.

After securing a hat-trick of victories since F1's summer break, Hamilton has turned a 14-point championship deficit into a 28-point advantage with just six rounds remaining - making the most of Vettel's potentially decisive retirement at the last race in Singapore.

Vettel is suddenly the title outsider after his spectacular start-line crash, and Sky F1's Martin Brundle described it as his "second poor judgement which could well have cost him the world championship", having received a stop-and-go penalty for bumping into Hamilton in Baku earlier this season.

Hamilton says he is grateful for Vettel's "weaknesses" as he looks to match his rival's tally of four titles.

When's the Malaysia GP on Sky?
When's the Malaysia GP on Sky?

It's the final Malaysia GP next weekend and you can watch all the Sepang action live with Sky Sports F1.

"Ultimately I think it's important to respect people you're competing with," the Mercedes driver explained on the Jonathan Ross Show on ITV. "He's an incredible athlete and truly one of the best drivers we've seen in the sport.

"But it is great to have seen some of the weaknesses come through this year and I'm grateful for this recent one."

The Briton has previously credited his form to staying error-free and claims he will stay true to the approach for 2017's finale.

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Hamilton credits lack of errors

"Coming from last year, for example, where there were lots of mistakes, this is a year I try to make sure that, if I'm going to grow anywhere, in any space, that's going to be it," he said.

"And focus on not making any mistakes seems to be working."

No plans to retire... yet
Hamilton also addressed his future in F1 and beyond and insists he has no plans to retire just yet - even if he has contemplated calling it a day it in the past.

The three-time world champion currently has a contract until 2018 with Mercedes, but is set to start talks about a new deal at the end of the season.

"There have been talks about it [retirement] and I definitely have thought about it," Hamilton added. "There's times when I've thought there's other things I want to do.

"But then we're in the heat of this battle right now and I'm loving it more than ever. The training, all the work you put in to something and you get to really show your abilities, it's the greatest feeling ever. So I'm going to keep going for as long as I can and see what I can do."

But Hamilton says he is starting to focus much more on a life outside of the sport, with music his main passion.

"Every year I'm always assessing the plan," he said. "f you look at all the Formula 1 drivers in the past - when you're in F1 you're in the spotlight, you're on top of the world but then it's kind of downhill from then on.

"You don't earn the same money and there's not a huge amount of opportunities because you've been in that world so long - I've been in it since I was eight.

"These past five or six years I've really been trying to work on what I enjoy outside of the sport so that when I stop I can walk away and have other things to go to."

Can Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari bounce back from their Singapore nightmare? Watch the Malaysia GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 8am on Sunday October 1.

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