Hamilton: 2019 prep started with Abu Dhabi win

After ending 2018 in fine fashion in Abu Dhabi, world champion Lewis Hamilton already has his sights on next season.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton believes his dominant victory at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the ideal preparation for his tilt at a third consecutive Formula One title.

The Briton had long-since wrapped up a fifth championship in Mexico last month, but he signed off in style with wins in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

And the Mercedes driver is keen to keep the pedal to the metal ahead of 2019.

"I really wanted to finish the season strongly," he said in quotes reported by Sky Sports. 

"I wanted to end how l plan to start next year - that was the new psyche."

Sebastian Vettel was runner-up in the drivers' standings, while Red Bull finished strongly with Max Verstappen winning in Mexico and coming second to Hamilton in Brazil.

But Hamilton believes Ferrari man Vettel is most likely to be Mercedes' biggest challenge again.

"I imagine it would be Sebastian and Valtteri [Bottas] alongside me," Hamilton told Sky F1. "Red Bull have got a great car, they have been very strong at the end of the year. They will have a new engine next year. 

"Will they be able to compete with us? I hope so. That would be epic if they could mingle with us weekend-in, weekend-out. But they have to work on their reliability. But l wish them all the best. We are ready for the competition."

Vettel's season was blighted by a series of errors and he concedes he needs a break to mentally refocus.

"I think I need some time for myself. I think it has been a quite difficult and exhausting year for me. I definitely need a bit of a gap," he said.

"Looking back I haven't been at the top of my game."

That was a view shared by Hamilton's team-mate Bottas, who said: "I want to have some time to think about things. Mentally it's been a pretty tough year, l need a break."

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