Hamilton: Ferrari 'impressive' but F1 title fight still between three teams

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Lewis Hamilton still sees an open fight for the Formula 1 championship despite Ferrari's 'impressive' pace.

The Scuderia sent a big message to their rivals with their speed in Bahrain but again showed weakness in finishing the job in the race.

Expectations are though, that they begin this weekend's race in China as the favourites for victory purely because of a distinct power advantage.

“It’s impressive to see,” Hamilton said on Thursday in Shanghai. “But it just means that we are challenging other areas to try and pull more from the car.

“My confidence and our focus and attention have not wavered, and I’m still very confident that we can extract more on weekends."

Indeed, as the last race proved: “It’s not just about straight-line speed; it’s about cornering, performance, reliability, the mechanical side, how you approach a weekend – all these sorts of things," the world champion continued.

“You could say [Ferrari have] a stronger package than they had last year.

“I don’t think we have got a worse package, we have got a really good package as well, but they’ve definitely stepped up this year.”

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 Then there's Red Bull, who remain somewhat of an unknown after Max Verstappen claimed a podium in Australia but then the team slipped back a little in the last race.

“You definitely can’t count them out,” Hamilton said. “The Red Bulls have had a bit of a slower start but they won the race here last year and they particularly finish off strong so I anticipate it could be something similar.

“On the straights [their car] has been really good. Whereas they usually have a really strong car and not such a strong engine, it’s gone the other way this year.

“They have not as strong a car but they are one of the teams who can develop at a similar rate to Ferrari and us.”

Put all his analysis into one sentence and Lewis believes a straight fight between himself and Vettel is not on the cards again,

“At the moment it’s at least four of us and then the Red Bulls," he declared. "I don’t see that changing any time soon."