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Hamilton expects ‘tougher’ three-way tussle

(From left) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel celebrate on the podium at the end of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, the Yas Marina circuit on November 26, 2017

LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 23 – Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is predicting a three-way battle for this year’s titles with Red Bull entering the fray.

Last season it was all about Mercedes and Ferrari as Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel locked horns with cameo appearances from their respective team-mates and the Red Bull drivers.

This year, though, Hamilton reckons Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo could play a bigger part in the tussle having seen Red Bull close the gap in the latter half of 2017.

“You see the pictures [of the new cars] come out and the ones that have been posted are all very vague, you can’t really see the items they have on the car,” said the 33-year-old.

“I haven’t even see the Red Bull yet but last year when that turned up it had no [aero] furniture on it. Their development curve was quite steep, they were a second and a bit behind and then with us at the end.

“But given that we ended last season Ferrari, Red Bull and ourselves very close, I anticipate this year we’ll be quite similar in that sense. So I think you’re going to see a tougher battle.”

And the Brit hasn’t ruled out a fourth team joining the tussle.

“Who knows, maybe there will be another team,” he added. “I’m not really aware of how McLaren are doing, but hopefully there are more in the mix and it’s tighter.”