Hamilton picks Vettel rivalry as favourite of F1 career

Lewis Hamilton says his rivalry with Sebastian Vettel ranks as his favourite from his Formula 1 career so far, believing their battles helped bring them closer together.

Vettel Hamilton

Hamilton and Vettel have collectively won 10 of the last 11 F1 drivers' championships, and went head-to-head for the title in both 2017 and 2018 when they raced for Mercedes and Ferrari, respectively.

Hamilton was able to defeat Vettel in both years, but the duo enjoyed a number of close tussles and tense moments throughout the title fights.

Asked what his favourite rivalry in F1 history was, Hamilton picked "mine and Seb's battles", calling them "my favourite up to now".

Hamilton expanded on his answer by explaining how he had total respect and appreciation for all of the work that both he and Vettel put in when they fought each other, and was full of praise for the now-Aston Martin driver.

"Knowing how hard it is to be where we are today, knowing I was racing against an incredible driver, and not only that, but a great man in Seb," Hamilton said.

"He's a four-time world champion. Ultimately when you're racing against another team at the same time, Ferrari who were very strong at the time - it took a lot out of both of us in that period of time to remain focused, to deliver weekend in, weekend out.

"I think whilst it was a difficult period for us, I think it probably brought us closer as well, because the respect that we have between us is I think huge."

Hamilton's anticipated fight against Max Verstappen for this year's world championship is already being talked up as a possible great F1 rivalry.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton said he "can't assume" what will happen so early in the season, but spoke about how he relished close title fights.

"For me, I think fighting with Seb, fighting with Valtteri [Bottas], you just want to be fighting with the best drivers and [it be] as close as possible," Hamilton said.

"Then you can hopefully try and eke out a bit more than your competitors to get the results."

Hamilton said the battle against Verstappen would have a different dynamic to his fights against Vettel given the Red Bull driver's reduced experience.

"It's different now, of course," Hamilton said. "If I'm racing with Max, he doesn't have the background that Seb has, but he's obviously got the chance of being a future champion.

"Whether that's now or later, it depends on the job ultimately that the team and I do."

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