Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he didn’t expect Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to be so quick so soon, and that their Malaysian Grand Prix victory on Sunday took him by surprise.
Hamilton seemed visibly rattled when told Vettel was now only three points in arrears after the German's victory in Malaysia – Ferrari's first in almost two years.
"Three points behind me? Really? Wow," said Hamilton. "Yes, well, we've got to get our feet down, (I mean) our head down and keep pushing on."
Surprised by Ferrari
Hamilton admitted his shock at Ferrari's pace this weekend, but said he "welcomed the fight".
"Naturally we were not expecting them to be as quick as they were," he said. "But as we said after the last race, we welcome the fight.
"This is what it's all about. It's great to have a battle with the Ferraris, I wish we were wheel-to-wheel. Maybe we'll have that in the next race."
Factoring Vettel into title battle
When asked if he would take Vettel as a serious threat to steal away his world title, Hamilton replied: "Of course we will, because he's a player with us.
"They look like they've taken another step this weekend. In the past, they've struggled to get tyres working in cooler temperatures, so it steers them towards this being a good track for them. Others maybe not."