Hamilton eys fast start to new season

 22 Mar 2017 - 22:01

AFP

Melbourne: Lewis Hamilton will look to put his stamp on the new Formula One season at this week's Australian Grand Prix, as he seeks to regain the world title following the shock retirement of reigning champion Nico Rosberg.
Ten years after his F1 debut at Albert Park, Hamilton arrives at the downtown circuit as the leading light of a sport now under new management and featuring wider and faster cars.
Hamilton, 32, was beaten to last year's title by Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, who quit the sport five days later citing the intense pressures of competing.
This year, Hamilton will be face renewed competition from Ferrari and Red Bull, who are expected to close the gap on dominant Mercedes, as well his new team-mate Valtteri Bottas of Finland. Hamilton is revelling in the new generation of quicker cars, which coincides with American group Liberty Media's takeover and the exit of long-time ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone.
"I'm finding the car is much more physical to drive than in the past," said Hamilton, who is seeking his fourth world title after victories in 2008, 2014 and 2015.
"Having spoken to the drivers, these machines are violent -- just like Formula One cars should be," said Mercedes chief Toto Wolff.
While the Silver Arrows have dominated F1, winning the drivers and constructors titles over the last three years, pre-season testing pointed to other teams pushing hard.
Ferrari topped the timesheets at testing in Barcelona, with Kimi Raikkonen fastest ahead of team-mate Sebastien Vettel.