Lewis Hamilton is excited by the prospect of a more open fight at the front of the Formula 1 field in 2018, believing that Red Bull could be a "real challenge" in the fight for both world championships.

Hamilton swept to his fourth F1 drivers' title in 2017 as Mercedes extended its streak of constructors' championship wins as both Ferrari and Red Bull struggled to match the Silver Arrows for form.

Pre-season F1 testing saw Ferrari finish quickest as both Red Bull and Mercedes focused on long run pace, leading to anticipation of a possible three-team fight at the front come the start of the new campaign in Melbourne later this month.

"Of course, the ultimate goal is that we hopefully have more teams fighting for the championship," Hamilton said. "I think there was one year where had six different winners in the first six races, or whatever it was. That’s only good for the sport.

"The more competition there is, the more fun it is to watch. Like you, I have grown up watching the sport, being a fan of it and seeing it when it’s been a one team championship and seeing it when there’s been a couple fighting so I am really hopeful.

"I think Red Bull could be a real challenge this year, their car looks great and I haven’t seen anything from what Ferrari have been doing, but for sure they’ll be good. It’s going to be exciting."

Hamilton enjoyed his final running in the new Mercedes W09 car ahead of the new season on Friday, and felt content with the programme Mercedes had completed.

"I don’t know where we are in terms of the pack, but our week has been very good, very productive, we got through everything we needed," Hamilton said.

"Reliability has been fantastic and the car feels great. We haven’t been working on balance or anything like that but in terms of some of the issues which we had last year, a lot of them, some of them at least, have been removed.

"But the track is a lot different what it used to be because they resurfaced it, and so it’s kind of misleading at the moment.

"It’s difficult to know until we get to Melbourne."



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