Hamilton expecting 'closest' title fight of career

"That's a great race, mate". "I'm confident that we can get where we want to be".

Like Hamilton, Vettel said he would relish the battle continuing for the rest of the season.

"For sure we have some work to be done with set-up so we can be happier all the time, but the speed was not too bad".

"That's what racing is all about".

"In fine, very close battles, any advantage you can get, and definitely early on, will hopefully pay dividends at the end. Then there were other times in the race when I was quicker".

A chaotic start to the race on a wet track, however, scuttled the highly anticipated showdown as Hamilton coasted to victory for his fifth title in Shanghai and first of the new Formula One season. Though he quickly got by and caught up to the Red Bulls with super-soft tyres of his own, he ran out of laps and had to settle for fifth.

And he produced another virtuoso display to complete the podium after he rose 13 places from 16th on the grid - including a sensational nine on the opening lap - to seal his status as the rising star of the sport. "Grazie a tutti!" said Vettel over the radio. They had good speed there and I was also struggling on the exit of turn 12 in the first part of the race. "We couldn't prove that, but next time we will". Today we finished second. Valterri Bottas was sixth, followed by Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and the Force India's of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. The desert heat could play into the hands of Vettel with his Ferrari expected to fair better in the warmer climate than Hamilton's Mercedes vehicle. Despite failing to finish, Alonso - a double world champion who will be remembered as one of the finest drivers to step into a Formula One cockpit - called his performance "incredible" and "one of the best things that has happened to me". "I'll make up for it in the next race". The first incident of the race happened on the opening lap itself, when Force India's Sergio Perez collided with the Williams of Lance Stroll, spinning the latter's vehicle on to the gravel.

The wet weather conditions would have certainly made the race more interesting between the two but the German driver dropped a few places after deciding to go to the pits just before the safety vehicle was deployed to clear Antonio Giovinazzi's crashed Sauber auto.

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