Lewis Hamilton is keeping his fingers crossed that he and Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel can have a proper battle in Bahrain on Sunday after last year’s race did neither of them any favors.
Vettel, now joint leader of the Formula One championship with Mercedes’s Hamilton after two races, was unable to start the 2016 grand prix at Sakhir due to an engine failure on the formation lap.
The German, who had qualified third behind the then-dominant Mercedes drivers, has been alongside Hamilton on the front row so far this year.
“It (the title battle) is going to go right down to the end of the season, and I hope there’s nothing mechanical that will come in between our sheer battle through ability,” said Hamilton after winning in China last weekend.
“I really, really hope it’s just an out and out fight through stubbornness, through mental stability, through fitness, composure…,” he added.
Vettel, a four times world champion with Red Bull, and triple champion Hamilton have 43 points apiece after one victory and second place each.
Unless both draw a blank, the deadlock must be broken on Sunday at a desert circuit where both are two times winners and returning in rather better mood than they left last year.
There is a real sense of anticipation about the emerging scrap between two great rivals with a huge determination to win and no less mutual respect of each other’s talents and achievements.
“He is at his best and he is phenomenally quick,” Hamilton said of Australian Grand Prix winner Vettel. “Ferrari are at their best in years. We’re at our best as a team, and I feel like I’m at my best.
“The ultimate fighter always wants to go up against the best battle he can have because then when you come out on top, it’s so much more satisfying. I love this fight.”