Lewis Hamilton says a “formidable” Ferrari will prove “very hard to beat” at the remaining races of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Ferrari has enjoyed a recent resurgence following the summer break and claimed three victories and four pole positions at three of the past four rounds, with Mercedes ending the Scuderia’s winning streak last time out in Russia with an unlikely 1-2 finish.

A significant aerodynamic upgrade in Singapore has enabled Ferrari to find more performance in slow-speed corners, an area which had hampered the Italian squad throughout the campaign.

Having been largely outclassed by Ferrari since July’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Mercedes has brought a minor aero update to Suzuka in a bid to close the gap to its chief rival.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton said: “I’m excited to see what’s in store for us this weekend with the competition we have and the new challenges that we face with the new car and whether this car will work here or not - it will be interesting.”

Asked if he thinks the intra-team tensions at Ferrari to play into Mercedes’ hands following its team orders controversy in Sochi, Hamilton replied: “No because I don’t think we need help. That’s not the way that I look at things.

“We want them to be at their best so we can challenge them at their best and ultimately if we can beat them at their best then it just makes it feel better.

“It’s interesting, people’s interpretations of what is and what isn’t happening there. I’m not watching it closely enough to see.

“I think there’s been a lot of noise made over the last race but I saw Sebastian [Vettel] after the race and he looked like he was in a harmonious position. But from the outside it looks a certain way.

“I think they are a formidable force and are doing an incredible job at the moment and they are going to be very hard to beat at the remaining races.

“They’ve obviously clicked with this package and it will be interesting to see how that unfolds into next year’s car, because again, it’s an evolution of this year’s car.

“I think hopefully we will have an even closer season next year. But these next five races, it will be interesting to see how that relationship evolves.”

Commenting on the difficulties top teams face having to manage two star drivers, Hamilton added: “Over the course of history you’ve seen world champions in the same team and there’s always going to be friction in a racing team because you’ve got this conflicting target.

“There’s the team but it’s also an individual target between the two drivers. So you are constantly trying to balance that confliction.

“It’s all about trying to find the balance and how it’s managed from the top down. It’s just about respect and how it’s managed.

“Communication is key and there are different philosophy’s up and down the paddock. I think probably mostly just between these two teams in particular and over the following years we will see if it works or it doesn’t.

“It hasn’t worked for a long time over there and most likely won’t work going forwards either, but that’s not bad for us.”

 

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