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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Lewis Hamilton 'trying to break down new barriers as he chases fifth F1 title

Mercedes-GP driver gets his quest under way at the season-opening race in Melbourne on Sunday

Mercedes-GP driver Lewis Hamilton smiles in the paddock during previews ahead of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park. Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Mercedes-GP driver Lewis Hamilton smiles in the paddock during previews ahead of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton said Thursday he hadn't yet reached the peak of his powers as he embarks on the weekend's Australian Grand Prix in search of a fifth Formula One crown.

Hamilton, who is reportedly about to sign a new contract with Mercedes-GP, says he is ready to break down new barriers at the age of 33.

While appearing disinterested for large parts of the drivers' news conference ahead of Sunday's Melbourne opener, Hamilton said he was definitely ready to take on all-comers in the 21-race season.

The British driver was asked if he had reached his peak. "I hope not," he said.

"I'm sure there is a peak for a driver when his fitness levels get harder to reach, when your interest and drive starts to decline.

"I guess that's when you're over your peak, but I definitely feel I'm not at that [stage]."

The Englishman, who beat Ferrari arch-rival Sebastian Vettel to win last year's world title with two races to spare, said he is eyeing new highs this year.

"In my mind I'm trying to break down new barriers, push the envelope and see how far I can take it. Firstly, the opportunity that I have and obviously the ability I have to realise my full potential," he said.

"I don't know what that is and that's what I'm discovering."

Hamilton said inconsistency issues were now in the past as he seeks his fourth world title in five years after winning his first one with McLaren in 2008.

"I think there are a lot of people that need to get headlines, so that's one way of saying it," he said.

"But, I think the important issue is to be more consistent than I was last year. I think consistency was the reason I won the world championship."

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Hamilton, who showed little interest in elaborating on his answers to media questioning at his conference, said he was focused on racing.

"I'm definitely not tired, this is the 12th season I'm doing the press conferences," he said.

"I'm definitely not the most excited about this section of the season and the race weekend, but I'm looking forward to getting in the car."

He had words of praise for his rival Vettel, sitting alongside him at the media conference.

"The ultimate goal to be the best is that you're going to have to go up against the best," he said of Vettel.

"He's got the four world titles, had the most of any other driver at the time and I think this is an exciting year for Formula One fans that we have two four-time world champions battling it out."

Hamilton has won twice in Melbourne, in 2008 and 2015, and has won 62 of his 208 GPs.

He already holds the record for most pole positions with 72 ahead of Michael Schumacher's 68.