Lewis Hamilton says he has 'work cut out' in duel with team-mate Nico Rosberg
New Mercedes arrival full of praise for long-time friend's form
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 14/04/13 6:38am
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he faces a challenge to stay ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg after acknowledging his Mercedes team-mate has "raised his game" in 2013.
Although Hamilton has claimed the better qualifying and race results in their two grand prix alongside each other since the former McLaren driver's arrival at the Brackley team, Rosberg has been closer to the 2008 World Champion's pace than many had anticipated.
The German's competitiveness relative to Hamilton was underlined at the last grand prix in Malaysia when Rosberg challenged the sister Mercedes for third place into the closing stint until being told to hold position by the team's management owing to fuel concerns with both cars.
Nonetheless, with team chief Ross Brawn since having made clear both drivers are on an equal footing, Rosberg made the stronger start to the Chinese GP weekend on Friday and outpaced Hamilton in both practice sessions.
Rosberg has a special affinity for the Shanghai circuit having claimed his maiden F1 win there 12 months ago, having also led the previous two editions, and Hamilton admitted to Sky Sports F1: "He's driving fantastically well.
"He's definitely raised his game and so I definitely have my work cut out, but that's normal."
The relationship between team-mates is firmly under the spotlight in F1 at the moment amid the mounting public tension between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Hamilton suggested it was "important" that team-mates had a mutual respect for one another, something he says he and Rosberg have in any case held since they were first paired together 13 years ago.
"We're just working as hard as we can at the moment," the Briton added.
"We've known each other for a long time, we've got a history like no other drivers here probably has - [we were karting] team-mates in 2000 - and that relationship remains today."