Lewis Hamilton admits he prefers fighting with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull for race victories rather than just his teammate after a dominant Mercedes performance at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas took pole position but Hamilton grabbed the lead into Turn 1 and was never headed as Mercedes cruised to a fifth consecutive one-two finish in Barcelona. Hamilton insists the lack of a significant challenge from the likes of Ferrari does not allow Mercedes to relax from a championship perspective, and says he takes more enjoyment out of racing another team rather than only having an internal rival.
“We’re still very focused on trying to make sure we deliver each weekend,” Hamilton said. “We don’t come to the race knowing that we’re going to have a gap. And also, we’re aware of… we only have a small amount of engines through the year, reliability could be an issue, anything could happen at any point, so you’re super-focused on trying to make sure you deliver.
“My personal feeling is that I prefer it when they are in the mix with us. For example, Bahrain where they were on the front row. I love that. Especially when we’re intertwined, where there’s a Ferrari and a Mercedes, or a Mercedes and a Ferrari.
“The last couple of years, that’s what we’ve had, and from a drivers’ point of view and a team’s point of view, it’s much better when you’re competing with another team. When it becomes more internal, it’s less exciting, I would say — but it’s still massively challenging for the drivers.
“We still have to deliver. It’s not a case of just rocking up and going out. We still have to work very, very hard to extract everything from the car, just as every other driver is.”
Despite preferring to have more challengers for victory, Hamilton says he still enjoys racing Bottas because the pair enjoy a good relationship both on and off track, after they went wheel-to-wheel into Turn 1.
“It was respectful and balanced — as we always are. The team has spoken of it, and Valtteri and I have spoken of it, and I think we have the best pairing that any team has, especially with the balance that we have in terms of how respectful we are. A lot of the drivers don’t do that — they don’t have that respect between themselves.”