Lewis Hamilton has downplayed a mental edge over Sebastian Vettel as he feels only the German driver can truly know of any advantage and feels the Formula 1 world title race remains wide open between multiple drivers.

The reigning F1 world champion pressured Vettel into a spin while attacking for position during the Bahrain Grand Prix, a mistake the Ferrari driver repeated on multiple occasions during his failed 2018 F1 title bid, and subsequently lost vital ground in the early points fight for this year finishing in fifth place as Hamilton claimed victory following a late engine issue for long-time leader Charles Leclerc.

With the pair contesting a very similar incident fighting on track during last year’s Italian Grand Prix, which saw Vettel spin after contact on the opening lap with Hamilton, the British driver shrugged off suggestions of a psychological edge over his Ferrari rival and feels the question should be given to the German himself.

“I don’t go into a battle with him and feel that I’ve got one up on him, or anything like that,” Hamilton said. “I enjoy racing wheel-to-wheel with anyone, doesn’t matter who it is.

“I go in with the same mentality, so it doesn’t matter what driver it is in the world, here or any other class, I’d approach it exactly the same. That’s probably not a good question for me, you probably have to ask him.”

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Hamilton also feels six F1 drivers remain in the title fight – all the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers – rather than a sole battle between himself and Vettel which has become the familiar picture over the past two seasons.

The Mercedes driver underlined the threat from Red Bull and fears both Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly will come on strong as the team develops its 2019 F1 car equipped with Honda power.

“At the moment it’s clearly not just me and Sebastian,” he said. “I don’t see that changing any time soon.

“At the moment it’s at least four of us and the Red Bulls, you definitely can’t count them out. They’ve had a bit of a slower start but I think if you look at last year for example they won the race here and they particularly finished strong. I anticipate it could be something similar.

“On the straights they’ve been really good so they are clearly, whereas they usually have a really strong car and not so strong engine, it’s the other way this year. They’ve got not as strong a car. But they’re one of the teams that can develop at a similar rate to Ferrari and us so it’s far too early to say.”



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