Refreshed Hamilton ready for 2016 F1 battle

Lewis Hamilton has warned his Formula One rivals he is ready to raise his game in 2016 as he goes in search of a third successive title.

The Mercedes driver has topped the drivers’ standings for the past two seasons after edging a fierce battle with his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

In 2015, Hamilton won 10 of the 19 races to take the title by 59 points, the Briton sealing his third championship after victory at the United States Grand Prix in October.

Having sealed the title the 31-year-old admitted to taking his foot off the gas in the final three races, something Rosberg took advantage of to finish the season on a high.

However, he is ready to race at full pace again after enjoying a promising start to testing in 2016.

“Honestly it was good for him [Rosberg] at the end of the year,” he told the official F1 website. “I had good races – I got the points.

“I did not do the bare minimum, but I did what I needed to do to finish the year.

“I didn’t do what I had to do to win the championship because I already had won the championship. If you fight for the championship you have to bring that extra five or 10 per cent – after I had bagged the title I didn’t need that anymore.

“I used my energy elsewhere.

“But now my sole focus is again on winning the title – but Nico also has grown, so I have to accept that he is exceptionally fast and so I also have to lift my bar again. I don’t know how – but that is my goal.”

Mercedes are expected to dominate again this year, but Hamilton hopes it is not a repeat of the past two years when he and Rosberg have fought each other – which has led to tension within the team.

He added: “It [the tension] is there. But it is a small fire that everybody pours a lot of gasoline on to make it bigger.

“And then, of course, also me and Nico, we unintentionally pour more gasoline on to the fire depending on who is winning a race. So it is real – a real competition.

“I hope it is not purely a ‘Lewis and Nico show’ [this year] – I hope Ferrari gets involved in that show and that we will have fierce competition beyond me and Nico.”

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