Lewis Hamilton says he has a car the equal of Sebastian Vettel's 'for the first time'
Mercedes driver to start Sunday's German GP from pole position
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 07/07/13 12:05pm
Hamilton looks forward to Vettel battle
Lewis Hamilton believes that he now has a car as fast as Sebastian Vettel's for the first time in his F1 career.
The Mercedes driver will start Sunday's German GP alongside the Red Bull driver after edging out the local favourite by a tenth of a second during a dramatic finale to Saturday's qualifying hour.
Hamilton has yet to win for his new team after leaving McLaren at the end of 2012, but says that, in the form of Mercedes' W04, he now possesses the equipment to go wheel-to-wheel with the three-times World Champion.
"This is the first time that I have ever really had a car to be equal with him - although they are generally quicker than us in the race," Hamilton told Sky Sports News.
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"But anyway I am looking forward to having a one-on-one with him and I hope I can stay ahead."
Hamilton has previously insisted that Fernando Alonso - who he partnered in 2007 at McLaren, the year before the Englishman beat Felipe Massa to win his solitary World Championship - remains the best driver in the sport and complained last year that "when I won the World Championship, I wasn't as lucky as Sebastian has been to have a car that's as dominant the next year as well".
In a recent interview ahead of the British GP at Silverstone, Hamilton admitted he was growing anxious that time was running out on his dream of becoming a multiple World Champion and intimated he left McLaren due to fears he was "wasting away the best years" of his career.
"Time is slipping away," Hamilton said. "It's been five years since I won the World Championship.
"There are a lot of drivers that haven't won a World Championship, so I feel at least grateful that I have one, although one is less prestigious now because so many people have won a Campionship. Now the people who have two or three or four: [that's what] makes you special.
"I got to F1 and nearly won in my first year, then won I won in my second year," Hamilton reflected. "I've never had a car to really compete since then. The car makes such a big difference so you're just wasting away your best years."
Hamilton claimed pole having earlier struggled with oversteer during final practice.
The session saw him go back to basics - the set-up he used in P1, in which he was fastest - and when he still found himself well off the pace of team-mate Nico Rosberg, even more changes were made.
They obviously worked in qualifying but Hamilton, who has veered from one extreme of car balance to the other during the course of the weekend, has not yet used the new set-up for a long run.
Acknowledging that a question mark still hangs over his race pace, Hamilton explained: "I started with a good balance in P1. We made some changes and it got worse, we made some more changes and it got even worse.
"At the end of P3 we went back to where we started, which was better but I was still six tenths off Nico. And we made a lot of changes going into qualifying.
"I don't know how it's going to work in a long run, but I anticipate it'll be better."
Hamilton currently sits fourth in the Drivers' World Championship, 43 points behind Vettel.