Hamilton: Title would mean more in "tougher" 2018 season
Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton says a repeat title in 2018 "would mean even more" because his Mercedes team is locked in a close battle with both Ferrari and Red Bull.
Back in 2017, Hamilton repeatedly made it clear how much more satisfying it was to be fighting a driver from another team in the shape of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, after three years of the title being decided in intra-team battles at Mercedes.
The challenge from the Ferrari did not stop Mercedes from winning its fourth consecutive drivers' and constructors' championship last year - but in 2018 the Silver Arrows look to be facing a sterner test, having gone win-less in the first three races as Ferrari and Red Bull shared the spoils instead.
Asked by Motorsport.com what it would mean for him to come out on top in a close battle involving two other teams, Hamilton said: "Who knows what the season holds? If it continues the way it is, it's going to be very tough to win.
"But if there's an opportunity, and we were to finish on top, it would mean even more, as it's even a tougher season than before."
Hamilton admitted that his difficult weekend in China had emphasised that Mercedes does not have the fastest car at the moment.
"It hasn't changed my thinking. My goal is obviously still the same, but it is clear from this weekend that we are not the quickest.
"We've lost performance since Melbourne, and maybe more so even this weekend. So we are second- or third-fastest team at the moment, so we've got some improving to do, but that's not impossible.
"I think what this team has shown over the years is that we are great at staying united, and continuing to barrel on and keep working.
"So I know everyone here and back at the factory is just going to keep pushing as hard as possible."
Hamilton said he's spurring on the key players in the team to find improvements: "I think we've got a lot of information over the past couple of weeks. So I certainly also am also pushing very hard, James Vowles and James Allison, Niki [Lauda] and Toto [Wolff], trying to encourage them.
"So they know which kind of areas we're struggling most with, so they can really apply pressure maybe in those departments, or just make sure that we've got more development coming, or something like that.
"We've got to keep constructive pressure on the guys. But they're already pressured as they want to win just as much as all of us. It's just a battle, just working as a team."
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