LEWIS HAMILTON is bracing himself for all-out mental warfare in his F1 title battle with Sebastian Vettel.
The two have gone head to head on the track this season and are separated by just six points going into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
And now the rivalry is set to explode off it, as the two racing aces get locked into a psychological battle.
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And Brit Hamilton says he is confident of his mental strength will hold up under pressure from the German — who had a notorious duel with his former Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.
He said: “The psychological side is something I take a lot of pride in; the fact I am very strong mentally.
“I think that’s something you can admire about when battling someone else like Sebastian or Fernando.
Lewis Hamilton is relaxed as he bids for a victory in Monaco that would put him top of the Formula One world championship table.
Hamilton said: “It will be interesting to see how it develops, he seems solid and I want him to be his best when he gets in the car.
“I don’t have any intention of playing psychological wars outside the car.
“I want to beat him in the car because when he’s at his best and I beat him, that says what it needs to say rather than having him on the back foot.
“But it’s definitely going to be part of it this year for both of us as it’s such a long year.
“It is just it is in golf over 18 holes. Whoever is the most consistent generally ends up winning.
“I am excited about that, it’s an all-round battle both physically, mentally, technically and I think that’s why it’s a great battle.”
While Hamilton admits he will not start “playing psychological wars outside the car” the mind games HAVE already started.
In previous years, Hamilton had enjoyed a muted level of respect towards Vettel, often pointing out that his four world titles had all come in an Adrian Newey-designed car.
The Red Bull technical whizz, regarded as the best designer in F1 history, was no doubt a key figure behind the team’s success.
And Hamilton repeated those old feelings in Monte Carlo. When asked what he most admired about Vettel, he quipped “his car…”.
However, it could be argued the shoe is now firmly on the other foot, as Hamilton has enjoyed three years in his Mercedes — the best car on the.
He added: “I know what it’s like having a good car, you still have to do the job. It’s just other people are easy to blame certain things or look at negatives, make excuses.
“But I know what it takes. Of course, when we were racing and he was in the Red Bull car, I wished my car was a little bit quicker so I could have given him a battle like I have this year.
“Maybe it would not have been so easy for him, but you could say the same thing for the last few years.
“It does not deter from the fact he is an exceptional driver and he continues to show that year upon year and what he does in that Ferrari is fantastic.” Vettel, who constantly fought with Webber in so far as to earn the right to have the larger dressing room in the motorhome to earn a psychological blow, was quick to dismiss Hamilton’s praise of Ferrari.
And says that Mercedes will be the team to beat, even though he is leading the championship.
He said: “Mercedes is doing a very good job. We had a good start to the season, but we are not happy to be behind in the constructors’ championship; we want to be ahead.
“We could have won more races, but we have a long season ahead of us. We have a strong car so that I am not that worried.”
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Hamilton can equal his idol, Ayrton Senna, by notching up his 65th pole position of his career in this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
If he does qualify on the front spot on the grid for Sunday’s race, he would move joint-second with Senna on the all-time pole-sitters list, just three behind Michael Schumacher.
Hamilton said: “Coming here this weekend, it just doesn’t seem real that growing up I would be watching the grands prix on video.
“Every time I’d come home from school and watch Ayrton race and watch the onboard footage of him racing around Monaco.
“Now I’m one away from matching his qualifying record which just doesn’t seem real. I feel very honoured to be up and amongst the greats.
“But I don’t feel like there is any pressure. If it happens this weekend, it happens. If it doesn’t, it will happen. I will get another pole at some stage, for as long as I live.
“I’ll keep pushing and it’s just quite remarkable I think what my family and I have achieved in the time that I’ve been here.”