Lewis Hamilton says he's loving the intense rivalry against Sebastian Vettel and racing on the edge knowing one key mistake will be the difference between winning and losing in 2017.

The Spanish Grand Prix winner battled back from slipping behind Vettel at the first turn with a switched tyre strategy to retake the lead with a storming overtake at the same corner on lap 44.

Hamilton felt physically and his car's performance were pushed to the limits by the charging Ferrari in the closing stages and repeated his respect for Vettel with their on-track battles and knew any mistake would let the four-time F1 world champion strike back.

"Seeing him [Vettel] after the race, he was so fast up ahead, it was such a push to try to keep close to him and not let him pull away," Hamilton said. "I think it was the rawest fight I can remember having for some real time, which I loved. This is what the sport needs to be every single race for sure.

"This is why I race and this is what got me into racing in the beginning. To have that close battle with him, with a four-time champ, is awesome."

Hamilton has compared his 2017 rivalry with Vettel to the iconic tennis heavyweights Rodger Federer and Novak Djokovic with wins being decided by the smallest margin.

"What I love about battle and what I love about a racing with Sebastian is like how I love tennis, I love watching Federer and Djokovic in the final, and what I really admire is consistency," he said. "Every hit of that ball, just one misplaced or one in the net can mean the whole game, so I admire their concentration and I felt I had that battle against Sebastian."

Hamilton has closed the F1 world championship deficit down to six points on leader Vettel with the pair on two wins apiece after the opening five rounds in 2017.


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