Lewis Hamilton says he is having to work “twice as hard” to stay ahead of Formula 1’s new generation of drivers, but feels as young as ever ahead of his bid for a seventh world title in 2020.

Hamilton, 35, is now the second-oldest driver on the F1 grid – only Kimi Raikkonen, 40, is older – but has shown few signs of slowing down, having won his sixth world title last year.

Hamilton regularly found himself fighting on-track with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, both of whom are 22 years old and seen as the sport’s next generation of greats.

Speaking to GQ, Hamilton said he still saw plenty of room for improvement despite enjoying his most successful season to date in 2019, winning 11 races and scoring 413 points.

“I’m just a generally very competitive person. I love what I do,” Hamilton said.

“With Formula 1, the technology is always advancing. You’re constantly being challenged. I’d won the championship and I was already in touch with Bono [his race engineer] to make notes on things we could improve on.

“There have been areas this year that haven’t been spot on, so it’s about how we can tackle those, try something different. There are always areas you can be better. If it was perfect, you’d win every race it. Blitz it, probably.

"It’s been relatively consistent in 2019, but there were some ups and downs. We always want to be able pull more out of qualifying, in particular, understand the tyres a bit better, extract more from the technology.

“And all these young kids are coming up and getting fiercer and fiercer. So you’ve got to work twice as hard.”

Asked about his status as one of F1’s elder statesmen, Hamilton joked he would have to “start paying Kimi to stay so I’m not the oldest”.

Hamilton added: “Luckily, I think he’s going to keep going. I don’t feel old at all. I feel as young as ever.

“I feel fit, fitter than ever. Everything just works better now, with the experience I have.

“I don’t even think it’s harder to stay physically in shape, although I’m sure that will inevitably tail off at some point."