Lewis Hamilton rates his rivalry with Sebastian Vettel as his “favourite”, even better – at least for him – that Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost.
Entering Formula 1 in 2007 with McLaren, Hamilton watched as Vettel romped to four World titles with Red Bull, taking the crown from 2010 to 2013.
The end of Vettel’s reign saw the rise of Hamilton’s.
Moving to Mercedes, the Brit strung together six championships in seven seasons while Vettel, who swapped to Ferrari in 2015, took the role of main challenger.
He, however, fell short, third in 2015 and runner up in 2017 and again in 2018.
Hamilton rates that rivalry as his favourite.
“I’ve got a really bad memory, but I’m going to say mine and Seb’s battles were my favourite up to now,” he said in the driver press conference ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“I was so young watching the [Ayrton] Senna era, so I didn’t get to remember too much of it. Of course, I saw the battles between him and [Alain] Prost in videos.
“But I think it’s just knowing how hard it is to be where we are today, knowing that I was racing against an incredible driver, but not only that but also a great man in Seb.
“He’s a four-time World Champion, and we were racing against another team at the time.
“He was at Ferrari, which were very strong at the time, it took a lot out of both of us in that time to remain focused and to deliver weekend-in, weekend-out.
“And while it was a difficult period for us, it probably brought us closer as well because the respect that we have between us is huge.”
As for Vettel, he chose the battles between Senna and Prost despite being a huge Michael Schumacher fan.
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With Vettel’s form going off the boil in recent years, Hamilton has a new main rival in Max Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver is determined to end the Brit’s reign and made a good show of it at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix where he crossed the line just 0.7s behind Hamilton.
Comparing the brewing battle with Verstappen to those against Vettel, Hamilton added: “It’s different now if I’m racing with Max. He doesn’t have the background that Seb has but he’s obviously got the chance of being a future champion.
“Whether that’s now or later depends on the job that ultimately the team and I do.”