Hamilton keeping poker face

Lewis Hamilton knows it will take a special effort to win the F1 title this season

Lewis Hamilton knows it will take a special effort to win the F1 title this season

First published in National Sport News © by

Lewis Hamilton has likened his "intense" Formula One title battle with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to a game of poker.

The drivers' standings are currently led by German Rosberg on 202 points, with Briton Hamilton 11 points behind in second with eight races of the season remaining.

The relationship between the drivers was subject to scrutiny when Hamilton refused to allow Rosberg to pass during the Hungarian Grand Prix last month, acting against team orders.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has since said he can see the pair's rivalry potentially getting "more heated", but has also stressed it has "functioned really well" up to this point and that ''they push each other to new levels, to new heights, in a way that is not detrimental to the team".

Hamilton admits this particular title fight has more to it to than some of those he has been a part of in the past.

The 29-year-old, speaking as part of the Forever Faster campaign by Mercedes team partner PUMA, said: "The battle does feel a lot more intense this year.

"When I was racing against Kimi Raikkonen (in 2007) and Felipe Massa (in 2008, the year he won the title), they were in a different team and their cars had different strengths and weaknesses to my car and, in my team, it was just me that was really competing with them.

"Now I'm racing against a guy who has the same car as me - we both have access to exactly the same data and feedback so it is really hard to try and be ahead.

"It's a little bit like playing poker - you have a set of cards and the other guy is not supposed to know what you got, but Nico and I can see each other's cards so then it's more difficult to beat each other."

Hamilton is in no doubt that it is a tougher task directly vying to be champion with a team-mate, but has also emphasised that he is enjoying his racing more than ever at the moment.

"It is definitely more challenging (than competing against someone from another team), because you have to find ways to create small margins," Hamilton said.

"And so what you do is bring your skills, things that you've learned, things you can put into the mix.

"And you always have to move forward - you can't just be good and that will be enough, you have to keep pushing the boundaries, because every time you take a step forward the other guy makes an equal step so you have to keep doing it."

Reflecting on his 2008 triumph, he added: "It was great because it was the beginning of my Formula One career but a lot of the things that went on in the sport at the time weren't so enjoyable.

"Now, with so much more experience, I'm able to really enjoy the sport more. I'm happier and can focus solely on racing without any of the distractions I had back then."

Hamilton says his overwhelming feeling when claiming the title in 2008 was relief, and he does not believe the experience will count for too much in his pursuit this time around.

"When you win a championship, for me it was a relief, because you worry all year, you think about it non-stop," he said.

"The only fear is failure, you know? And so when you do win, you just kind of think: 'Oh thank God for that and go relax now'.

"It's not all 'Yeah, yeah I won, I won! It's the greatest thing!'

"I know I've been there before because I'm going for my second championship but it feels like I'm going for my first.

"It really does. It doesn't feel like I've had one already and I've experienced it.

"Every race is different and every season is a new experience. Every Sunday you feel different, every start you feel different."

:: Watch Lewis Hamilton give James Corden his fastest interview yet at www.youtube.com/puma. PUMA is the official team partner of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team.

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