Hamilton expecting Red Bull threat in China

Lewis Hamilton expects Red Bull to be a major threat in China this weekend and says the battle for the Formula 1® drivers' title is wide open.

The defending champion took the chequered flag in Bahrain last time out having reversed the one-two with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen completed the podium in Melbourne, but Red Bull struggled to replicate that promise in Bahrain where Ferrari new boy Charles Leclerc was third after a mightily impressive showing.

Most pundits predicted that this season would once again see Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel vying for supremacy.

Hamilton, though, believes the early evidence suggests otherwise.

"At the moment it's clearly not just me and Sebastian," he said, in quotes reported by F1®'s official website. 

"So, I don't see that changing any time soon. At the moment it's at least four of us and the Red Bulls, you definitely can't count them out.

"They've had a bit of a slower start, but I think if you look at last year for example they won the race here and they particularly finished strong. I anticipate it could be something similar.

"On the straights they've been really good so they are clearly, whereas they usually have a really strong car and not so strong engine, it's the other way this year. 

"They've got not as strong a car. But they're one of the teams that can develop at a similar rate to Ferrari and us so it's far too early to say.

"The first few races of every season are really difficult to kind of judge.

"Obviously we didn't expect the performance we had at the first race, we didn't expect to see what we saw at the second race. It's only the third race."

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