x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hamilton expects competition to get tougher

As if last year's title race was not close enough, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton expects more competition for his crown when the season gets under way in Melbourne on March 29.

As if last year's title race was not close enough, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton expects more competition for his crown when the season gets under way in Melbourne on March 29. The Briton's McLaren was seventh fastest out of the eight cars which tested at Jerez, in Spain, on Wednesday as Renault's Fernando Alonso led the way.

Hamilton said it is far too early in his team's pre-season preparations to be overly concerned, but admitted many of his rivals were already looking strong. "This is my first day with Ferrari being at the same track, so for me it looks very similar to every other year - 2007 and 2008," he said. "Just from looking at the times, it looks like [Toyota] are doing quite a good job. "But I think a lot of the teams are doing quite good jobs.

"The Renault doesn't look bad, the BMW doesn't look bad, so there are quite a lot of teams looking pretty impressive at the moment." Hamilton has called on his team to knuckle down over the coming weeks if they want to have any chance of retaining his title. "I haven't arrived here thinking I'm world champion, I've arrived thinking I've got a great team I need to push as hard as I can. We've got a lot of work to do to make sure we're ready for Australia," said Hamilton, who finished the runner-up in the 2007 title race.

* PA Sport