F1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton believes a true measure of ability can only be measured when you are driving the same car as a key rival.

The two-time champion is currently competing in his ninth season of F1 racing and in that time has competed with just two teams - McLaren and Mercedes - and had four team-mates, Fenando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg. In that time, only Button has out-scored Hamilton during a season (in 2011).

Indeed, though Hamilton has firmly established himself as one of the sport's great competitors over the last decade, he says only driving the same car as a main rival will determine who is the best of his generation.

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"I think ultimately you will never have a true race unless you are driving the same car, because there will always be differences in the car. One might have slightly more power, one might be better on the brakes... I remember when it was McLaren and Ferrari, they had a slightly longer wheelbase, their car was better at looking after the tyres, the rear especially. Theirs was an understeering car, ours was an oversteering car.

"If you are fighting your team-mate it is a real battle when you have the same material. The cars are getting more closely matched so I am looking forward to having that battle with not only Nico, but also Kimi and Sebastian."

Expanding on the renewed challenges posed by Ferrari, Hamilton admits he has raced close enough with Raikkonen or Vettel to determine where its strengths lie.

"To be honest, I have no idea what their strengths are. I have never really been behind them to really know. The one little bit was one of the stints in Malaysia when he came up the inside, so they obviously have power in a straight line. Otherwise I have not witnessed where the weak areas are in the car."