Hamilton anticipating 'back and forth' battle with Ferrari

Mercedes have won the opening two rounds of the F1 season in contrasting circumstances, but Lewis Hamilton expects a stiff challenge.

Lewis Hamilton following his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix   -  Getty Images

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton believes it is too early to assess whether Mercedes or Ferrari will come out on top in the 2019 Formula One season.

Hamilton claimed victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, with Valtteri Bottas — the winner in Australia on the opening weekend of the campaign — completing a second successive Mercedes 1-2.

However, it was Ferrari who had more pace in Bahrain, with the unfortunate Charles Leclerc only denied a maiden grand prix victory by a loss of power in the closing laps.

Leclerc had to settle for third, with Hamilton subsequently acknowledging Mercedes had got lucky.

Asked in a news conference if Bahrain was likely to provide a pointer for future races this term, the Briton replied: "I think it's really difficult to say, honestly. We've only had two races and they've been [the] flipside [of each other] - one where we were rapid and far ahead and this weekend where they were.

"Every season, it takes a good few races before you kind of get a gist of where it all is but I anticipate it's going to be back and forth between the two of us.

"If they [Ferrari] have this straight speed in the next race [in China on April 14] then we'll be watching them disappear but obviously we're going to be working hard to try and understand where we went wrong this weekend and if we can improve the car.

"But, as you can see, reliability is also a very key, important part, so we've just got to keep working on all areas."

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