Lewis Hamilton says he is feeling stronger than ever as he prepares to defend his Formula 1 crown starting this weekend at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion says he expects a fierce fight in 2015 from his rivals as well as team-mate Nico Rosberg, who pushed him all the way into the final race in the battle for the 2014 F1 title. But the 30-year-old says he improves as a driver every year and feels better than ever.

"There are many good drivers out there and all of them want to win," Hamilton said. "You just have to want it more than they do. I feel fresh, I feel fit, I feel relaxed, I feel positive. I feel ready. I think as a driver you get stronger with every season, so I plan to be better than last year."

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The two-time Formula 1 champion also says he is delighted to go racing again and paid huge credit to his Mercedes team on the work done developing the W06 for the new season.

The Mercedes team enjoyed a thoroughly impressive winter testing programme, with several of its rivals admitting they are still playing catch-up. Despite some reliability issues during pre-season Hamilton is confident the Brackley-based team can repeat last year's success of the teams' and drivers' titles.

"As a driver you're impatient to get back to racing but, at the same time, you never know what a new season will bring," he added. "Testing gives you a basic idea of whether the car feels good or not but, beyond that, it's anyone's game to win."

Hamilton will be hoping to avoid the disappointment of 12 months ago, when he failed to finish in Melbourne due to a broken cylinder, meaning his Mercedes car was seriously down on power. The British driver had started the race on pole position but with a limping power unit he slipped from first to fifth by the end of lap one and was called into the pits by Mercedes to retire on lap two.

The 30-year-old, who has one Australian Grand Prix victory to his name in 2008 with McLaren, is hopeful Mercedes are on top of its reliability issues and will be successful from the off at Albert Park.

"The team have been working incredibly hard through the winter and it was great to see everyone in the factory before I left for Melbourne," Hamilton said.

"We had a great season last year as a team and, of course, we'd all love to repeat that. But the others won't stop chasing us. I'm sure the competition will be close and we should get exciting racing with plenty of battling for position - which is great because that's what I love doing and that's what the fans love watching."


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LoveF1: No ramjam, as we keep reminding you, the winner will be the driver with the most points over 20 races.

Points-scoring consistency is key.[\blockquote]

Sorry, that's what meant to say, and I still hope it's Lewis :-)

All the drivers want to win, of course Lewis is going to say that. But I think only two drivers have a cat in hell's chance of winning at the start of the season. I hope Mercedes don't have it all their own way again this year, and would like to see Williams, Ferrari and Red Bull in the mix too.

Who'll win the title this year?
The fastest driver over 20 races, and I'm hoping it's Lewis.

if it was a secret approach how does anyone know if it did OR didn't happen other than the people in the room or a leak ?!!!!