Melbourne:Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton of team Mercedes said he is expecting a closer fight with team Ferrari in the forthcoming season and has downplayed the significance of not winning the opening race in Australia.
Despite being on top in every practice session and in qualifying, Hamilton lost out to teammate Nico Rosberg after a poor start in Melbourne on Sunday. Ferrai's Sebastian Vettel was a close third.
The world champion finished second, but it could have been worse as Ferrari looked stronger during the race than in qualifying, but blew their chances of victory with a strategy error.
"Ferrari's overall race pace was quite quick. They were on a different tyre with a different strategy," Hamilton was quoted as saying by Sky Sports on Monday.
"Hopefully we are going to have more close races like that going forward."
"I've a really good feeling about my pace, you've seen all weekend that I was ahead. But I am hoping it is going to be a good battle. There are going to be races where we are five to 10 seconds ahead and races where we will be wheel-to-wheel,” he said.
Hamilton made a poor start from pole and that saw him drop as low as seventh on the opening lap.
"I just got my wheel spin, so no particular real issues. The Ferraris were very, very strong, my initial phase was the same as Nico's, but the second part where you release the clutch fully I had wheel spin and didn't recover from it,” the Mercedes driver said.